Free quality content online. What should I be reading?
March 25, 2011 9:13 AM   Subscribe

Seeking suggestions for free, New York Times-quality content online. What should I be reading?

This morning I went to read an op-ed in the New York Times and hit the pay wall they just recently put up. I knew it was coming and while I still may end up paying, I thought I'd use this as an opportunity to see what MeFites are reading and what you might recommend.

At the moment I'm subscribed to 56 different blogs and feeds and am always on the lookout for more good stuff to read online. Some of the blogs are about very specific topics like OMG! Ubuntu!or TECH Cocktail. Others I read because of the quality of the writing or the intellectual nature of the content like Roger Ebert's blog or Of course I also subscribe to a fair amount of funny stuff like Hyperbole and a Half and XKCD. What I've found is that with all my reading is that nothing in my arsenal of blogs/sites really gives me an overall view of what's happening in the world, which is where the Times comes in.

What I love about the New York Times is the thoughtfulness and relevance of the articles and op-eds, as well as the overall quality of the writing. Unlike other news sites, they don't seem to dumb down their message. Times articles usually give me a good sense of the scope and size of the contemporary issues in the news, without making me feel like I'm reading a tabloid like USA Today or Of course I also like their op-ed staff but if I keep it to just op-eds I should be able to stay within their 20 articles/month maximum for free readers.

Do you have any recommendations as to news sites or newspaper sites that are as thoughtful, well-written and broad as the New York Times? I'm not necessarily tied to sites based in the US but I'd like to still have a pretty good sense of what's going on domestically. Beyond this specific question, how do you stay informed? What are you reading?

posted by alexherder to Media & Arts (27 answers total) 77 users marked this as a favorite
I highly recommend Foreign Policy for internationally focused news.
posted by rebekah at 9:17 AM on March 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

If you don't already read it, The Awl is a good start.
posted by oinopaponton at 9:17 AM on March 25, 2011 [2 favorites]

It's a one-man curated, low-quantity (8-10 links per weekday) link aggregator rather than a producer of original content, but I find a lot of really good news writing and criticism through The Front Section. Feel free to ignore the Arts and Argument columns if you're not interested in architecture and leftist polemic and stuff.
posted by theodolite at 9:28 AM on March 25, 2011 [2 favorites]

The Washington Post is a good alternative. And for the Libyan news, Al Jazeera.

Also, if you run out of free Times articles on one browser, you can just switch to another browser, e.g. Chrome -> Firefox -> Safari -> IE9.
posted by musofire at 9:29 AM on March 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

Arts and Letters Daily is one of my first steps on the long-form journalism train.
posted by General Malaise at 9:39 AM on March 25, 2011 [8 favorites]

The Economist has some limited amount available for free on-line. If you can look past the knee-jerk free market liberalism, it's one of the best sources of news you're gonna find.
posted by three blind mice at 9:44 AM on March 25, 2011 [2 favorites]

The Browser is a good aggregator of indepth, quality journalism from around the web.
posted by TheOtherGuy at 9:47 AM on March 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

I got some sort of invitation from Lincoln (the car company) to read for free for the rest of 2011. I'm sure I'm not the only registered NYT reader who got one.
posted by Ideefixe at 10:15 AM on March 25, 2011

The New Republic. Some articles are restricted to paid subscribers, but most of it is free (including all their blogs, which you can find on the right-hand side of the homepage). The restricted articles have a little red ship icon next to them. It will never be the most popular site among Mefites due to its moderate-liberal viewpoint, but it fits your criteria very well.
posted by John Cohen at 10:20 AM on March 25, 2011

The Guardian in the UK
posted by KokuRyu at 10:32 AM on March 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

GlobalPost - does what it says
posted by jetsetlag at 10:40 AM on March 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

I replaced the NYT with the CS Monitor years ago. They have 1/10th the Pulitzer Prizes of the NYT, but they are 9/10ths as good and I'm OK with that.
posted by DarlingBri at 10:41 AM on March 25, 2011 [2 favorites]

British sites with good global coverage: the BBC, Guardian and Independent.

The Economist is (I think) free for the current issue, but has a few restrictions otherwise. Most of the general news articles stay seem to stay permanently free though.

For more US oriented content, Time is still free online I think.
posted by philipy at 10:42 AM on March 25, 2011

Seconding Arts & Letters Daily.
posted by cyndigo at 10:47 AM on March 25, 2011

Thirding Arts & Letters Daily. ProPublica and Give Me Something To Read are also good.
posted by SisterHavana at 11:22 AM on March 25, 2011 [2 favorites]

I got some sort of invitation from Lincoln (the car company) to read for free for the rest of 2011.

You need to have ad-blocking turned off to get that.
posted by Obscure Reference at 11:36 AM on March 25, 2011

(I have ad-blocking turned on, and I got the Lincoln invitation through my email. The previous day, I got a survey from NYTimes in my email -- I was bored and clicked through, it was all about cars. Anyways, filled it out and the next day got the offer from Lincoln in my mail.)
posted by wyzewoman at 11:45 AM on March 25, 2011

Response by poster: Wow. So many great suggestions. Every time I post a question on AskMeFi I find myself blown away by the responses. Such a wonderful community.

I've tried the BBC in the past and while it's certainly good for headlines, I find they don't go into any useful amount of detail or analysis. It's sort of like Google News but without the variety of sources. This is a great list and my calendar is now well and truly packed with perusal.

Thanks for the tips on getting around the NYT pay wall. It's funny but for some reason that feels rude to me whereas simply finding an alternative somehow seems just fine.
posted by alexherder at 12:21 PM on March 25, 2011

Read the New York Times!!! You get 20 articles for free anyway and it's critical that people support good journalism if we want it to continue to exist. Is it really the case that you can't afford $15/ month? If so, there are certainly ways to get it free anyway if my twitter feed is anything to go by.
posted by Maias at 6:21 PM on March 25, 2011

longreads aggregates quality long-form content from around the web, including the occasional NYT piece.
posted by namewithoutwords at 6:24 PM on March 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

Instapaper's browse function shows many really nice long-form articles from various sources. You do not need to install anything, just click on the links. I guess it used to be available without creating an account, but looking at it just now I had to create one (which only required an email address and a password, and no sort of authentication of the email, so have at it!). But it was painless. I have found lots of really good articles this way.
posted by marble at 8:20 PM on March 25, 2011

posted by Hurst at 12:55 PM on March 26, 2011

Remember shortwave radio? All those government broadcasters are still out there, but on the web (and are providing great English-language news, blogs, opinions, etc in addition to audio & video podcasts). Visit:

Deutsche Welle from Germany,
Radio France International,
Radio Netherlands (which is amazingly good),

... and many other world powers that you might be interested in (Russia, China, Korea, etc.) which all have English-language web pages; just Google "Radio X". For example, I find it very interesting to check out the Radio Iran website to get their take on the US Republican party primary race for the 2012 election.
posted by math at 7:18 PM on March 26, 2011

People have mentioned the Guardian - here is a link to it. I especially recommend David Mitchell and Charlie Brooker's respective columns.
posted by teraspawn at 1:19 AM on March 27, 2011

I also recommend The Guardian and The Independent, which I don't think has been mentioned yet. I particularly enjoy the Comment/Opinion sections.
posted by jonesor at 1:58 PM on March 27, 2011

For more Washington-centric world or political news, I usually cull information from Politico, Roll Call, The Hill, and CongressDaily.

Politico, in my experience, attempts to be a bit more accessible to the general public, while Roll Call and The Hill are pretty standard Capitol Hill rags. They're meant for quick consumption, but the reporting is usually on point and, if nothing else, it all gives me a good idea of what stories to look for later in other, fuller sources.
posted by Comic Sans-Culotte at 12:51 AM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

Woods Lot -- art, philosophy, politics.
posted by rumbles at 12:59 AM on April 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

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