St. Louis Post-Dispatch website forces users to pay or answer questions to access articles

The death of newspapers around the country is a slow and painful one. Some have already gone under, while others have trimmed their staff and pushed their focus to online content. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch is no different, but they’ve gone a step further when it comes to trying to make a buck off of their online offerings.

First, some background., the website of the Post-Dispatch, is a horrible website. It’s clunky, it moves slowly and the entire thing needs an overhaul in terms of user interface and basic functionality. Their attempt to create a blockade protecting their premium content is laughable (more on this later). Then there’s the ads. Apparently there isn’t an ad STLToday didn’t like. From videos which play with sound as soon as you hit the page to the merciless pop-ups, STLToday is loaded with ads on almost every area of the website. Still, as annoying as these ads are, they’re expected.

Like other newspapers, STLToday has premium content reserved for subscribers of the newspaper. If you try to access one of these pages of content, you’re met with a login screen. Well, you are unless you hit the stop button on your browser. You see, STLToday is programmed so poorly that it redirects you to the blockade. Clicking “Stop” on your browser prevents that redirect from happening. Free premium content for everyone!

Now, the point of this article is that the site has now started forcing users to answer a question before showing them content. You either have to pay and be a premium member or you have to give up some info. This is in addition to the dozens of ads littering the site.

Here’s one example of what you see when you click on an article:


The section in gray which looks as if it was redacted is the article in question. Want to see it? Answer our dumb question. Sometimes you have to answer more than one question. Some of the questions are pretty personal, touching on topics like birth control methods and prescription drugs used. If these questions were used in place of all the flashing ads, videos and popups, we might be able to overlook it. Instead, these are used in addition to the horrific ads.

Of course, the website is such a mess that you can also bypass this survey crap with a click of the stop button on your browser.

We understand that newspapers are floundering, but this isn’t the way to make your money. Focus on churning out content that people want to see instead of weakly attempting to hide all of your words behind info collecting schemes.

If you’re going to die out, at least die out with some dignity.