Our Daily Bleg: Looking for the Best Online News

A reader named Chuck Amos writes:

My bleg is for a list of reliable, unbiased, and intelligent news sources that present general information in a readable and user-friendly way.

This seems like a very simple problem to solve, but my efforts over the years have been unsatisfactory. Sites like CNN.com are presented reasonably well, but the actual “news” is way too fluffy. Sites like Huffington Post are so miserable to look at that I’m not willing to sift through the train-wreck presentation and look for articles that might be interesting. Sites like Salon.com are willing to dig deeper than many of the mainstream news sites, but the politics are biased and therefore fail the test of what I seek.

To make my search more difficult, I don’t care about video (I have limited time, and I’d rather spend 20 seconds skimming/reading a written article than 90 seconds watching a newscast), and the amount of garbage that comes across Twitter feeds makes that outlet of limited use to me.

I’ve had reasonably good experiences with the Economist, Christian Science Monitor, and Guardian sites, but none of them leaves me completely satisfied.

My perfect news site would simply be a list of headlines that link to well-written, well-researched articles on a broad variety of topics. Sort of like an AP feed, but with articles that contain more than 2 poorly written paragraphs.

Can anyone point me in the right direction?

Chuck sounds like a nice guy but … hard to please! I wrote back to him:

Have you tried Google News? In some ways, it’s a dreadful aggregator, but it’s so easy to sort the dreadful from the potentially good that it can be useful. But what I suspect you are really seeking is a software/app solution, so you can easily customize the right news to get pushed your way on a daily basis. Anyway … we’ll see what the crowd has to say on this.

His reply:

Thank you for the note, I’m glad to read it’ll be posted. Google News is fine for topics I know, but part of what I love about reading the news is stumbling on a fascinating article on a topic about which I know nothing. I lose that element of surprise with Google News or other user-defined aggregators. Frankly, that’s the very reason I read your site … you make me interested in topics that are normally not interesting to me. Good news sites do the same thing.

All right, then readers. Can you help out Chuck, whether it’s a site, an aggregator, an app, etc.?

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  1. SJH says:

    Set up a google reader account (or netvibes if you are feeling fancy( – and follow the key rss feeds that interest you. I have a couple of BBC and guardian feeds, ch4 news and sky are both also good, some of the main political commentors, some American news and a few random things I am interested in. It suits me fine – and I need to follow the news for professional reasons and have little time (i am a press officer)….

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    • VinnieTheShark says:

      This is the best option. Pull from a variety of sources, and skip any headlines that don’t suit your fancy at that time. It also won’t repeat the same story from the same source. Just read the “unread” posts.

      Cheers,

      Vinnie

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      • Joseph says:

        I could not agree more. I have several pages set up in this way in MyYahoo that pull in RSS feeds from around the world including the NY Times, Guardian (UK), LA Times, Washington Post, BBC, and the Wall Street Journal. You can also use iGoogle but I do not like the interface as well as that in MyYahoo. This may reflect that I have been using the latter in this way since it first came out.

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    • Skip says:

      Yep, Google Reader is what I use. It takes some initial time investment to set up the various feeds that you like, but once that’s done, you’ll get a wide variety of content all in one spot.

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  2. Scott Rogers says:

    Flipboard for the iPad

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  3. Mark says:

    I wish I had thought to bleg this. It’s something that I have been trying to solve for a long time. My solution so far has been the same one I’ve used for 20 years: subscribing to a hard copy newspaper. Sadly, the only remaining newspaper in my city is rapidly dropping in quality and especially quantity of news.

    My backup solution is the Google News “Spotlight” section. It finds a lot of really good long-form articles that help fill the void that my shrunken Sunday paper has left behind.

    I wish there were a way to tell Google to ignore the news I read in the past. I am almost positive that it is filtering news based on what I supposedly want to read.

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    • pablo says:

      Use Firefox in private browsing mode (or equivalent for other browsers), which keeps your cookies and browsing history unaffected – a good way to escape the targeted-news-echo-chamber.

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  4. Phil Whittall says:

    I don’t think you can do much better than the BBC

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  5. Marcus Kalka says:

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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    • Tom Pestak says:

      Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  6. LGH says:

    Try Feedly, an app on Google Chrome. It’s an RSS reader. It’s like a customized magazine that makes reading multiple sources very easy and organized.

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  7. VB in NV says:

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  8. mohammad says:

    I think what he’s looking for is an actual news source or two… I really like this bleg, and I hope to find out the solution. I have the same problem getting quality reporting, without bias. ANy solutions out there?

    (btw, the problem with Google News is that, as previously mentioned, it filters articles based on what you probably have already read. If there was a better rating system – based on quality, not on how many agree with the article – maybe that would work.)

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