Clean, Fast & Readable: Lightweight Versions Of Popular News Sites

Justin Pot 28-11-2012

Read the news without using up all of your bandwidth. A wide variety of sites offer mobile or text-only versions that work on any computer, but they’re occasionally buried and hard to find on the modern web.


There are more than a few reasons to want to know where these sites are, however. Maybe you don’t like clutter? Maybe you’re one of the millions still using dial-up, and want a low-bandwidth way to read news? Maybe you regularly tether your computer to your smartphone, but don’t have an unlimited data plan? Maybe you like to read the news on your e-reader and want clean sites for doing so? Or maybe you want a list of quick-to-load news sources in case a disaster slows down your Internet connection just when you need it most.

Whatever your reason, find a list of links to mobile news sites that work on any computer below, without the need for tricks like user agent switchers.


To begin: Google Reader’s mobile site.

news sites

This is perhaps the most important URL to know, because with it you can make any site into a mobile one. Here it is:


The mobile version of Google Reader will even convert non-mobile versions of sites linked to into mobile pages, meaning it’s the best friend of anyone looking to save on bandwidth and screen real estate.

Not a Google Reader user? There’s a lightweight version of Google News, but it sadly links to full-version sites on most computers. Here it is:

It’s a quick way to see which stories are big right now.

American News Sources

Let’s start our American list with some newspapers and wire services. Here are the main major papers I could find desktop-friendly mobile versions for:


best news sites

  • The Christian Science Monitor Text-Only Edition. Beautifully formated for reading; no images at all.
  • Mobile version of USA Today. Smartphone-esque; images might look stretched in desktop browser.
  • Mobile version of the Wall Street Journal. Okay-looking interface; articles behind paywall.
  • Mobile version of the Chicago Tribune. Doesn’t look bad.
  • Mobile site of Reuters [No longer available]. All the latest articles from the wire service, works great on desktop.
  • Mobile site for Bloomberg [Broken URL Removed], a great source for business news. Looks great on the desktop.
  • Mobile version of The Onion. By far America’s most accurate newspaper, and the mobile site ain’t bad either.

On to the medium of the future: radio! Just a few here that I could find:

  • NPR offers two services:, which offers no images, no audio and no formatting. Or, if you prefer, there’s, which functions like a smartphone app but works quite well.
  • Democracy Now’s mobile site is another option, though it can be confusing.
  • Voice of America’s mobile site. The official external radio station of the US government.

Why watch TV when you can read it? Don’t over-think that sentence.

Global News

best news sites



Social Networks

Not exactly news sites, but these links can also save you some bandwidth and/or screen space.

One More!

news sites

Still not enough? [NO LONGER WORKS] can make a mobile version out of any site. I feel obligated to mention them, and not only because they feature MakeUseOf on their home page – it’s a magic way to make any site lightweight.

Anything else?

If a news site you like is excluded, it’s probably because of one of four reasons:

  • I couldn’t find a mobile version that works on a desktop browser,
  • I didn’t know a particular news service existed,
  • It’s not in English, or
  • I’m an evil liberal/conservative/communist/corporatist/Canadian/American trying to prevent people from accessing particular news sources.

Having said that, please: if you know of a mobile news site that works on desktop browsers share it below. Let’s make this the ultimate list of such sites together.

One final note: many sites stop desktop users from viewing the mobile version of their site. There’s a way around that, though: changing your user agents and tricking those sites into thinking you’re on a mobile device. We’ve written up User Agent Switcher. Check it out:

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  1. Wilson Jone
    November 18, 2019 at 6:05 pm is the whole POST Online Media in text version. Very nice.

  2. Reader
    April 7, 2019 at 5:29 am

    Google Reader has been discontinued.

  3. Vic
    July 17, 2016 at 7:54 am

    Thank you for catering to people that like to read (can read?), rather than view dazzle.

  4. Me
    July 16, 2016 at 9:19 am

    I'm sorry, but your site is not clean or readable when it's plastered with advertisements. I am desperately seeking a readable news source for foreign news (especially Canadian) because I'm sick of the constant assault from animated advertisements. I came to your site looking for a text only news site, and your website title and description were both misleading.

  5. ADAM
    May 24, 2016 at 11:33 am

    I love for weather......I dont know if it's actually more "lightweigt" than a mobile equivalent..... but it's defnitely simple and straight forward and typically spot on!

  6. ion popa
    November 29, 2012 at 7:38 pm

    Just reading the title and Twitter comes in my mind...

  7. Drake Hatfield
    November 28, 2012 at 5:51 pm

    I think you forgot the most lightweight news site of all, Drugdereport.

    • Justin Pot
      November 28, 2012 at 7:21 pm

      It links to sites that aren't lightweight, though.

      • Drake Hatfield
        November 28, 2012 at 7:25 pm

        Most of the sites he links to have mobile versions that open up appropriately, but you are completely spot on regarding the bloat of current media sites. Enjoyed the article.

        • Justin Pot
          November 28, 2012 at 7:40 pm

          Thanks for sharing another idea!