What are the most popular online news sources?
December 14, 2011 11:24 AM   Subscribe

What are the most famous online news sites that aren't online presences of older institutions? I'm talking 100% name recognition. Can be any type of news, but should be something that if mentioned in general conversation among people under 40 you don't have to explain what it is.

I would say Huffington Post and the Drudge Report fall into this list. CNN.com, MSNBC.com, etc. aren't because they are online portals.

And any type of news would work, so perezhilton.com would count, aintitcoolnews.com, and The Onion I'd all include.

What are some others?
posted by arniec to Computers & Internet (26 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Talking points memo, gawker and its associated sites.
posted by Diablevert at 11:26 AM on December 14, 2011

posted by muddgirl at 11:26 AM on December 14, 2011

Politico. Slate.

I don't think Memeorandum or RealClearPolitics have 100% name recognition in any age group, but they are major news sites that are purely online.

(I had never heard of aintitcoolnews until now, so it's far from 100% name recognition.)
posted by John Cohen at 11:31 AM on December 14, 2011

None of these has anything approaching 100% name recognition. I would suggest Google News is better known than all of them.
posted by roofus at 11:36 AM on December 14, 2011


I would not call CNN.com & MSNBC.com portals. They started as online extensions of their television components and now have their own content. That's not a portal - Google News is a portal, in that you go through Google News to find content on publishers' sites.
posted by sestaaak at 11:41 AM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

does IMDB count?

(and FWIW, The Onion was around in dead-tree format before it was a website.)
posted by xbonesgt at 11:43 AM on December 14, 2011 [2 favorites]

Television Without Pity, 4Chan (depending on how loosely you classify news), the entire Gawker empire, including Gizmodo, Lifehacker, etc. DeadlineHollywood daily, for a certain segment of show biz news (or as it is probably better known, Nikki Finke.)
posted by Ideefixe at 11:46 AM on December 14, 2011

I would not call CNN.com & MSNBC.com portals.

I think the OP means to exclude sites that are outgrowths of traditional media like newspapers or TV stations. If I'm understanding the OP correctly, "portal" simply isn't the right word. Examples of news portals would be Memeorandum, RealClearPolitics, and to some extent HuffingtonPost.

And yeah, The Onion did not start as a website.
posted by John Cohen at 11:47 AM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

I always thought the dead-tree Onion came after the web site (at least it did here in Austin).
posted by bitterkitten at 12:03 PM on December 14, 2011

And before you dismiss this, consider that almost all 'traditional media' sites are aggregators, too: they just get their stuff from AP, UPI, McClatchy, and press releases (too).
posted by zomg at 12:04 PM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

nm. That's what I get for not wiki-ing before posting.
posted by bitterkitten at 12:06 PM on December 14, 2011

I always thought the dead-tree Onion came after the web site (at least it did here in Austin).

Nope. I'm from Madison, Wisconsin, where The Onion started. We were getting it on the newstand for years before the world wide web even existed.
posted by John Cohen at 12:09 PM on December 14, 2011

posted by jbickers at 12:14 PM on December 14, 2011

HuffPo, TechCrunch.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:19 PM on December 14, 2011

Yahoo News. Seriously, everyone with a Yahoo account sees more news headlines than email, every time they check their email.
posted by IAmBroom at 12:27 PM on December 14, 2011

I don't think most of these, including several of the ones you use as examples, actually have 100% name recognition among the under-40 crowd, or even among the under-40-internet-saavy-news-following crowd. I spend many, many hours a day on the internet, and I have no idea what aintitcoolnews.com or Mashable or Memeorandum or DeadlineHollywood are. I think the only things mentioned that even come close are Google and Yahoo.
posted by decathecting at 12:31 PM on December 14, 2011

What are the most famous online news sites that aren't online presences of older institutions? I'm talking 100% name recognition.

I don't think there are any.

I think there's probably a not insubstantial number of people who've never heard of the Drudge Repor, let along the HufPo, Politico, etc.

Yahoo and Google aren't famous as news sites per se. Name recognition for those brands is probably as close to 100% as you can get, but I wouldn't be at all surprised that there's a large number of people who don't know them as news sites. They could put it together... if you say "Yahoo News," they'll probably figure out that it's some sort of news site put together by Yahoo, but they're deducing that its nature, not recognizing the name they already new.
posted by Jahaza at 12:34 PM on December 14, 2011

knew! not new (also not wildebeest, pronounced gnu)
posted by Jahaza at 12:35 PM on December 14, 2011

sestaak, CNN.com and MSNBC.com are news portals -- they are gateways to branded or allied content products. Google News is not a portal; Google doesn't own the sites it links to. The name for this is aggregator.

Yahoo is a portal; Yahoo News is both portal and aggregator.

As to the question, I don't think there is an answer as framed. One of the hallmarks of our electronic culture is a stratification and demarcation that means we are in a very different space than a generation ago, where a handful of broadcast outlets and about two 'national' papers dominated the news market. Today, a lot of people don't even watch the news -- or deliberately go to a news site. They get their headlines on Facebook or Twitter or via e-mail.

I use a highly customized Google News page, myself, but I'm a news junkie. I think the evidence shows that even 'news junkie' websites from CNN to the NYDN have given over significant real estate to mindless celebrity fluff or even boobies. Clearly the market has spoken in a big way.

That said, once you drill down into the world of specialty news, sites abound. Bluesnews for gaming, for instance. TMZ et al. for celebrity news. Space.com (broad name recognition because of Lou Dobbs, so even your dad might know it). Velonews. You name it you'll be able to find it, a sort of Rule 34 corollary, to an extent. But big, broad name-recognition properties? If they exist, they're already folded into an empire of one kind or another, like HuffPo (now AOL).

One of the few "reverse" acquisitions was Newsweek being bought by Tina Brown and The Daily Beast, of which it's now an offshoot. But I don't think TDB has that much name recognition, for all its investors.
posted by dhartung at 2:10 PM on December 14, 2011

It may not be a household name yet (depends whose household I guess), but Pro Publica is sort of the ideal brave new media news site. It's got great investigative reporting and it's an old-fashion newsroom that doesn't publish papers. A series of their stories won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting, the first such prize ever for stories not published in print. An earlier story in 2010 was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting, the first such award to an online news organization.

More about the organization here.
posted by stagewhisper at 2:40 PM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

MSNBC may actually qualify -- remember they were founded as a joint Microsoft-NBC venture during the dot-com bubble, and they had a Web site from the start. NBC News, which has been around for decades, is a completely different organization.
posted by miyabo at 3:13 PM on December 14, 2011

(Come on, 100% is an unreasonable standard. You can't find 100% name recognition for the State of Florida in this country.)
posted by ottereroticist at 3:46 PM on December 14, 2011

posted by SisterHavana at 4:40 PM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

dhartung: I work at MSNBC.com. We are not a portal. However, we are the online news arm of various NBC products, including NBC News. We also have plenty of original content but we do not fir the journalistic definition of a portal.
posted by GaelFC at 5:34 PM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

posted by Margalo Epps at 7:11 PM on December 14, 2011

In Holland, everyone knows nu.nl, which is an online only news source. ("nu" means "now"). It has a tiny little Wikipedia page in English which basically says the same.
posted by easternblot at 6:24 AM on December 15, 2011

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