Why Is Account Management on Newspaper and Magazine Websites So Bad?

I have long been a reader of newspapers and magazines. It might be my age, but as much as possible, I like to get my news in a slower format that rapid-fire articles on the web. As such, I have subscribed to a number of magazines and newspapers – both in print and digital – over the years. After an experience this morning, I scratch my head and wonder why, of all the categories of subscription content available on the internet, why are these websites so bad?

Today’s experience was with the Times Literary Supplement. I subscribed to a print and digital package last month, but hadn’t yet browsed the website beyond the number of free articles I’m allowed to see. I went to log in with the email and password that I had saved during the subscription process, and that failed. I clicked a Forgot My Password link, got a new password, and that failed.

So, I had to call the TLS’s customer support. After a first call dropped when I was being put through to the appropriate support person, I got through to someone who said that I must not have followed through with the entire process when I subscribed. in fact, he found no trace of my digital account at all, even though it should have been created when I subscribed.

I’ll fast forward to the part where, ten minutes later, after he gave me a very simple temporary password to log into the website, I went looking for a My Account link to change it to a secure password. It turns out that there is no such link. You have to go to a different website, for which the patient Will at customer service could send me a link.

(It must be easy to log into people’s accounts on the TLS website; the support person said that there are a lot of problems like this, and he clearly gives everyone the same temporary password, which I assume most people do not change.)

Think about that: you cannot access your account from a website to which you are subscribed. You have to know that there is a different website, and you have to have the link.

In any case, I changed the password, then promptly cancelled my subscription. I’m tired of these websites not working. When I give a company my money for a subscription, I don’t expect to have to waste time with customer service. And I’m particularly worried about the TLS’s cavalier approach to accounts, and how secure people’s data is.

Here are some examples of what I’ve experienced in the past with other publications.

  • When one subscribes to the New York Times, there is no way to make changes to your subscription, or to cancel a subscription, online. You must call customer service. For a company providing a high level of digital content, this is ridiculous. I can understand that, say, ten years ago, this was the case, but it hasn’t changed.
  • For several years, I subscribed to Harper’s. Then I was unable to log into my account. No password reset link worked, emails were not successful, and I was not pleased about having to make an international call to customer support. I got access again, but the next year, after re-subscribing, the same thing happened. I let that subscription lapse.
  • I subscribed for a while to Aperture, a magazine about photography. I didn’t want to continue the subscription after the first year, but there was no way to cancel the subscription online, and the company did not answer my emails. When they charged my credit card for a second year, I had to contest the change, and the company did not respond to my bank’s communications; I was eventually advised by my bank to cancel my credit card and have them issue a new one to ensure that they wouldn’t bill me again. That was in 2018. In August 2019, I received an email saying that they were having payment issues trying to renew my subscription again.
  • I had subscribed to the New Yorker off and on for many years. A few months ago, I re-subscribed, to a digital only package, and was not sent any information about how to log in. I emailed the company repeatedly, and, a few days after I subscribed, they said that it can take up to a week for foreign customers to get their login information. I immediately cancelled my subscription.

To be fair, there is one subscription that works as it should: The Washington Post. I’ve never had a problem subscribing, logging in, or renewing. The only complaint I have about the Washington Post is that they are very aggressive at logging people out, and it seems like I have to constantly log in again, whenever I want to read something.

I don’t know why this happens, but I have a feeling that in the US, since magazines and newspapers tend to outsource their subscription management and related customer service, that these companies are archaic in their operation, having existed managing print subscriptions for a long time, and just haven’t understood that the process online is different. In no other industry do I have this sort of problem with subscriptions: not for web services, digital content, or subscription-based apps.

It’s Time to Cancel your Apple News+ Trial Subscription

Like many people, I signed up for a 30-day free trial of Apple News+ the day it was announced. While I like the idea, I don’t feel it’s worth $10 a month for what it offers. (Read my first look at Apple News+.) So I’ve cancelled my subscription.

It’s not always easy to find how to manage and cancel subscriptions you’ve signed up for with Apple (but read this article to find out more), but with Apple News+, it’s actually quite simple.

Open the Apple News app. On the Mac, look at the bottom of the sidebar; on iOS, tap Following, and look at the bottom of the list of channels. You’ll see something like this:


Tap Manage Subscriptions, and you’ll see this:


Tap Cancel Free Trial, and confirm your cancellation. Note that Apple tells me that I’ll miss out on “more than 200 magazines,” whereas when they presented the service, they said there were around 300.


Apple has been a bit aggressive, showing me this on all my devices whenever I open the News app.


I’ve tapped No Thanks. I don’t know what it would take to get me to pay $10 a month for Apple News+. More magazines, perhaps, but also the ability to view content from the different magazines on their websites, which is not currently possible.

First Look at Apple News+

One of the new services that Apple announced on March 25 is Apple News+. Building on a free platform that the company debuted in 2017 with iOS 9, Apple has added magazines, newspapers, and premium websites to create a subscription-based service.

Unlike the other services that Apple announced on Monday, Apple News+ is available now, with the latest updates to iOS (12.2) and macOS (10.14.4). You can check it out in the News app by clicking News+ in the sidebar, and you can sign up for a one-month free trial.

Read the rest of the article on The Mac Security Blog.

How to Tell If an Online Article is Real, Fake or a Scam

Fake news, scams, and phishing are the plague of our times. It’s getting increasingly difficult to determine which websites are presenting truthful information. I’m not just talking about political views; people can disagree about those, and while you may not like what you read on certain sites, that doesn’t mean, as some like to say, “it’s fake news.”

A Stanford University study of 7,804 students from middle school through college found that some 82 percent of them cannot distinguish between an ad labeled “sponsored content” and a real news story on a website. These findings present a real risk when visiting websites you’re not familiar with; and, not just for students, for everyone. How can you know if what you’re reading online is telling the truth or trying to scam you either directly–such as by trying to sell you something, or get your personal information–or indirectly, by spreading lies, or by sowing doubt?

In this article, we offer a few tips to help you sort the wheat from the chaff on the Internet. These tips will help you determine if an online article is real, fake or a scam.

Read the rest of the article on the Mac Security Blog.

This is Why Apple News Sucks

I have rarely used Apple News, but with its inclusion in macOS Mojave, I have been checking it out recently. But it sucks. Here’s what I see today:

Apple news sucks

In what world what a story about extra-gooey-cheesy breakfast sandwiches be the top story? Is this a flawed algorithm that is pushing this story as the leader? I don’t follow the “food” topic, so I don’t see how this story even gets in my feed.

But look at the rest of the stories in the For You section; not one of them is in any way serious or important; maybe the Barnes & Noble story, if you’re an investor or publisher, but the rest of the top stories – travel, movies, etc. – how can anyone take Apple’s algorithm seriously?

Given how the news has been weaponized, and how important it is, Apple simply has to do better than this.

Why Can Everyone Spot Fake News But The Tech Companies? – BuzzFeed

“Among those who pay close attention to big technology platforms and misinformation, the frustration over the platforms’ repeated failures to do something that any remotely savvy news consumer can do with minimal effort is palpable: Despite countless articles, emails with links to violating content, and viral tweets, nothing changes. The tactics of YouTube shock jocks and Facebook conspiracy theorists hardly differ from those of their analog predecessors; crisis actor posts and videos have, for example, been a staple of peddled misinformation for years.

This isn’t some new phenomenon. Still, the platforms are proving themselves incompetent when it comes to addressing them — over and over and over again. In many cases, they appear to be surprised by that such content sits on their websites. And even their public relations responses seem to suggest they’ve been caught off guard with no plan in place for messaging when they slip up.”

All of this raises a mind-bendingly simple question that YouTube, Google, Twitter, and Facebook have not yet answered: How is it that the average untrained human can do something that multibillion-dollar technology companies that pride themselves on innovation cannot? And beyond that, why is it that — after multiple national tragedies politicized by malicious hoaxes and misinformation — such a question even needs to be asked?

Because they wan’t to use algorithms; they don’t want to have to pay humans.

Source: Why Can Everyone Spot Fake News But The Tech Companies?