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2542840362_bbfd71a9ed In the US, one major crisis facing the public is the dying of newspapers. As the Web becomes more prevalent and more important, newspapers are struggling to figure out how to make the Internet functional as a business model, and create a website as a destination similar to what a newspaper has been for so long.

Here’s a problem, though: most newspapers’ websites are terrible. They’re ugly, difficult to navigate, and not at all places you want to visit over and over.

Thankfully, though, there are a few news sources that are light years ahead of the others in figuring out what people want, and how to give it to them. Here are five examples of how news can, and should, work on the Web. In addition to models for other news sources, these are all gorgeous sites with great news, some original and most aggregated, and are excellent destinations for anyone who reads the news online.

Daily Beast

bigfatstory

My personal favorite news site, the Daily Beast has a number of brilliant news features. Primarily an aggregator of news from around the Web, both newspaper sources and elsewhere, (but also featuring a number of famous, and brilliant, columnists) the Daily Beast pulls it all together in an easy-to-read and easy-to-navigate way. In addition, the Daily Beast offers a couple of unique features: The Cheat Sheet gives you a look at that day’s news, all the most important stories in one place. Then there’s the Big Fat Story, which brings together a bunch of different stories and perspectives, all about the same issue. If you’ve only got a minute, and want to find out what’s going on in the world, the Daily Beast is the perfect place.

Newser

newser

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Newser is pure aggregation of news – all it does it take stories that exist, and make them easier to find and read. It’s very image-based, with larger stories garnering larger images that make them easier to find at a glance. There are links a the top of the page to some of the day’s biggest stories and memes, currently including “Britain’s Got Talent” sensation Susan Boyle. The sources for the site are the most reputable papers from around the US and world, which means you’re getting the best information – just in a much better, and more readable, way. The lifeblood of news is images, and Newser knows that well.

Times Extra

imgTimesExtra

“Old media” has one entrant into the ring of smart Web-news features, and it’s the New York Times. When you first visit the website, in the middle, underneath the headline, there’s a button that says “Times Extra.” Times Extra brings in content from other websites and blogs, right onto the NYT homepage. That way, if you want more information about a particular topic, but not necessarily from the Times, you can easily click around the Web from the NYT page. For a long time, news organizations have been afraid to link to each other, essentially seeing it as freely promoting competitors, but it appears that trend may be changing – to everyone’s benefit.

Huffington Post

huffpo

If blogs and newspapers had a lovechild, it would be the Huffington Post. HuffPo brings a lot of news aggregation to the mix, but is also a major source for blogs and bloggers – Robert Redford and Sean Penn are two you’ll find writing on the Huffington Post blogs. HuffPo is great with social media, too – stories can easily be shared, liked or disliked (in Digg-style), and conversation is encouraged on every story, whether originally HuffPo’s or not – many of the articles garner a huge number of comments. Every article also has a “Quick Read” that lets you read a headline, a summary sentence, and see an image – great if you need to know what’s going on, but only have a second to check the news.

Google News Timeline

google-news-timeline

The newest entrant into the news field (though Google News has been around a while), the News Timeline is a fascinating way to see what’s going on in the world. A new entrant into Google Labs, the New Timeline lays out the top stories from Google News (which aggregates news from a ton of different sources) every day. You can sort by hour or minute, or year or decade. The Timeline can also be filtered to news, videos, blogs, magazines, newspapers, Wikipedia entries, and others. It’s a great way to find out answers to the “on this day in history” questions, as well as the “on this second right now” queries.

Newspapers may still control the news right now, but reading their content is better done in any number of other places. I use all these sources regularly, and have forever left reading the poorly-designed, text-heavy, old-media style newspaper websites.

Where do you get your news?

Photo: garryknight

  1. Steve
    February 8, 2010 at 8:40 am

    HI !

    What about http://www.thedailykos.org(com) ????

    Steve

  2. zedlx
    December 22, 2009 at 11:44 pm
  3. gajtmdjg
    June 28, 2009 at 2:35 am

    I usually read BBC News and Xinhua. American news web sites tend to be too comercial, US-centric or biased. For multi-sourced news I use the UK's NewsNow or Yahoo News. On my mobile phone I sometimes use onenewspage.com.

  4. Mulder
    April 27, 2009 at 1:15 pm

    Uh…one big problem I see is that there is no Times Extra link on the NYT site. It doesn't matter whether you select the default edition or the global edition, it's just not there, so it would be very difficult to select it.

    Maybe it was there in December of 2008, since your screen shot is from that date, but it's not there now.

    • David Pierce
      April 27, 2009 at 2:59 pm

      It's really there. On the middle of the page, it says "Try our EXTRA home page." Right under the NYT logo. I'm looking at it right now, I promise.

  5. Lukas
    April 27, 2009 at 7:49 am

    newsmap.jp!

  6. Sheri Fresonke Harper
    April 25, 2009 at 7:39 pm

    Great one, I need to do more of those :) Sheri

  7. Charles
    April 25, 2009 at 12:13 pm

    Far and away my favorite!!

    http://www.rayogram.com/news

  8. j
    April 25, 2009 at 9:57 am

    HuffPo unbiased?? Gotta be kidding me. What a joke. Look at the list of columnists on DR and they are far more diverse.

  9. David Pierce
    April 25, 2009 at 7:22 am

    @Everybody-

    As for the Drudge Report, the only reason I didn't include it (and I do read it) was that it's just a terrible-looking site, and it killed me to include it next to other, better sites. Plus, all it is is a collection of links, without any kind of value added to it other than Drudge's stamp of approval. It's a good site, but not in the same vein as the ones above. I'm glad someone brought it up, though - it deserves to be mentioned.

    • SD
      April 25, 2009 at 9:55 am

      I'm glad you didn't include Drudge - unlike the other sites you mentioned which try to remain unbiased, Drudge definitely has a huge political slant to its reports.. So even though it might always have breaking news first, it isn't as "trustworthy" of a source.

      • Mitch
        April 29, 2009 at 3:47 am

        This list only confirms my suspicions from the last issue that recommended Aljazeera. I am sad to say the authors good discernment when it comes to the rest of the web does not carry over to his taste in news. Huff Po is only a small step above The Onion when it comes to accuracy. They are proved to lie as consistently as the NYT.
        While Drudge has almost no recorded instances of making up the news Huffpo spins it as well as a nazi propaganda machine. Al-J is about as unbiased as any good SS member ever was. While I do read these I also NEVER EVER take anything as fact until confirmed by a rational source.
        I also never listen to Rush although his proved accuracy rate is above 99%. There are many sources for news and if you don't actively look for both sides you are begging for deception.
        Let me show you just ONE of today examples of manipulation from AP (the arab owned source of much US news):

        (Note quotes by Rev Kenneth HIMES)
        "Harvard Law professor Mary Ann Glendon, one of the most prominent Catholic conservative intellectuals in the United States, announced yesterday that she would refuse a prestigious award from the University of Notre Dame rather than appear on the same platform on which President Obama is being awarded an honorary degree," the Boston Globe reports.

        The Globe notes that not all Catholics are unhappy with Notre Dame's plan to give the president an honorary degree:

        "There are some well-meaning people who think Notre Dame has given away its Catholic identity, because they have been caught up in the gamesmanship of American higher education, bringing in a star commencement speaker even if that means sacrificing their values, and that accounts for some of this," said the Rev. Kenneth Himes, chairman of theology department at Boston College. "But one also has to say that there is a political game going on here, and part of that is that you demonize the people who disagree with you, you question their integrity, you challenge their character, and you brand these people as moral poison. Some people have simply reduced Catholicism to the abortion issue, and, consequently, they have simply launched a crusade to bar anything from Catholic institutions that smacks of any sort of open conversation."

        Now read this 2006 Associated Press dispatch:

        Nearly 100 faculty members at Boston College have signed a letter objecting to the college's decision to award Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice an honorary degree.

        The letter entitled "Condoleezza Rice Does Not Deserve a Boston College Honorary Degree," was written by the Rev. Kenneth Himes. . . .

        "On the levels of both moral principle and practical moral judgment, Secretary Rice's approach to international affairs is in fundamental conflict with Boston College's commitment to the values of the Catholic and Jesuit traditions and is inconsistent with the humanistic values that inspire the university's work," the letter said.

        Himes, it seems, is an expert on demonization.

  10. Neil Watson
    April 25, 2009 at 4:37 am

    I would Aljazeera English and BBC News to give an international flavour

  11. belajar wordpress
    April 25, 2009 at 3:37 am

    I will check Google News Timeline, i think it will be great.

  12. Transcontinental
    April 25, 2009 at 2:40 am

    Very interesting. I'm discovering all five.

  13. jer
    April 24, 2009 at 9:56 pm

    So, what's wrong with the Drudge report?? You got some kind of grudge with Drudge that you didn't list him?

    • shep
      April 25, 2009 at 12:06 am

      Drudge totally rules.

      • Aibek
        April 25, 2009 at 3:41 am

        Another vote for DR

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