Weekly World News erects paywall, ending debate forever

The Weekly World News will move its website behind a paywall, the company announced Wednesday. Listen up, information-needs-to-be-free types: When Bat Boy goes behind a paywall, there’s nothing left to discuss.

Unlike much of what runs on the former tabloid’s website, this news appears to be true: Paywall company Mediapass says the site’s on board. The site now has twice as many visitors per month as its former print circulation of 1.2 million, the release says.

The Weekly World News left newsstands in 2007. “The Weekly World News was not one of those sleazy tabloids that cover tawdry celebrity scandals,” Peter Carlson wrote in an obituary for the paper. “It was a sleazy tabloid that covered events that seemed to occur in a parallel universe, a fevered dream world where pop culture mixed with urban legends, conspiracy theories and hallucinations.”

“If a guy calls and says Bigfoot ran away with his wife,” WWN staffer Sal Ivone told Carlson, “we wrote it as straight as an AP story.”

American Media sold The Weekly World News to Neil McGinness in 2008; it has operated as primarily a Web property ever since. “I grew up in Cleveland at a time when Dennis Kucinich was the mayor, so I believed that U.F.O.’s and many other things were possible,” McGinness told The New York Times at the time of the sale.

The Weekly World News has since published a book about Bat Boy, perhaps the most famous subject of the news organization’s reporting.

The Weekly World News remains pleasantly outrageous; one recent story, for instance, says President Obama “issued an Executive Order to immediately begin carving his face on Mount Rushmore.”

In 2010, “Fox and Friends” picked up a Weekly World News story that reported the Los Angeles police would be equipping themselves with jetpacks.

Google Books has some classic issues of the tabloid available. You can enjoy those for free, but going forward, news about Elvis sightings or Osama bin Laden and Sadaam Hussein’s affair is going to cost you.

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