The New York Times is now behind a paywall, but it’s not the only newspaper on the Internet. If you’re looking for a free alternative to the Grey Lady there are more than a few that offer quality, well-written reporting.
Consider yourself a regular New York Times reader, but can’t afford to pay for a subscription? You’re not alone, but sadly you’ll only be able to read 20 articles a month. There are certain exceptions of course, but for the most part you’ll need some sort of subscription to read regularly.
Not just any paper offers an alternative to the Times, of course; that publication’s readers will expect a certain level of quality. The list below attempts to include only the best alternatives the web has to offer, so keep reading to see if you can’t find a new homepage.
This is an obvious place to start. The Washington Post has long been the New York Times’ main domestic rival in the United States, competition that’s made both papers better. The two newspapers have long competed for scoops, but with the Time’s new paywall, the Post will probably pick up a lot of web traffic. We’ll see whether that’s actually the case or not, but for now it’s worth taking a look at this paper’s homepage and finding out if it fits your regular reading needs.
World famous following their recent collaboration with WikiLeaks, UK paper The Guardian has slowly been building up readers around the world with their in-depth international reporting. Expect to find well-written reporting over a wide range of subjects. As a newspaper that seems dedicated to building up its brand internationally via the Internet, it’s unlikely The Guardian will be behind a paywall anytime soon. Probably not an alternative to the Times for domestic politics in America, but it’s still worth checking out.
It’s hard to explain why this paper isn’t better known. Consistently engaging and comprehensive, the Christian Science Monitor is perhaps best known for its feature articles but also manages to keep its readers up-to-date. This paper is consistently excellent, and great for those who like longer reads. Don’t let the name confuse you; this is a secular newspaper with a commitment to objectivity and fairness.
Read by some of the most powerful decision makers on the planet, The Economist is well known for its international reporting and analysis. Though decidedly a publication that sees the world through a liberal, pro-capitalism and pro-globalization lense, The Economist is also an excellent source for hard news from around the world. Of particular interest are their in-depth reports on important stories, and (for our readers) their quarterly reports on current trends in technology.
The full table of contents for the print edition is behind a paywall, but it seems that all the content is free to access from the website. An interesting strategy, to be sure.
OK, so NPR may not be an alternative to the New York Times in many respects. Primarily a broadcasting outlet, NPR is sometimes better known for its shows about fictional small-town Minnesota and car repair than it is for its journalism. Don’t let that fool you; NPR does a lot of quality reporting, making its website a great place to look to keep up with world events.
Even better, there’s the NPR Web App for reading and listening to all of the day’s top stories. It’s the closest rival to the amazing NY Times app I’ve found so far. Or if standard websites are more your thing, click here to read NPR.
There are plenty of hacks for reading the New York Times for free; following them on Twitter, for example. Also see, 5 Ways To Get Around The New York Times Paywall. But as The Onion recently pointed out, there’s nothing inherently absurd about a newspaper trying to charge for content. Producing quality content isn’t cheap, after all.
But for now, lots of publications are giving the content away for free. Let me know what alternatives you like best in the comments below, or just discuss what you think the Times new paywall means for the industry.