Google News, News Sites and Paywalls

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In the mid to lake 90s and the early two thousands we could browse from news site to news site. I would visit the Guardian, the Independent, Le Temps, Tribune de Genève, New York Times and more. I would also look at the RTS, BBC News and other sites to check a number of sites for news. With time that freedom was lost.

We lost that freedom because websites became paywalled. We lost that freedom because some sites made it so that we would browse, but see nothing, in effect being clickbaited into clicking to a link that said “To view this content you need to pay”.

The Independent used to be a good news site, until it was bought and turned into an advertising platforms, where ads were put prominently and articles became an afterthought.

The other reason is that we used Google News and feedreaders. The advantage of Google News, and feedreader apps is that we can read headlines from a hundred newspapers with ease, on specific topics with ease. We get a sense of what each political lean thinks.

By browsing to the Guardian, the NyTimes and other papers they get advertising income, until they paywall their content. I used to visit all the Swiss news sites/newspapers until they were gradually paywalled. The result is that I don’t visit the sites at all. I skim the headlines in Google News and then move on. I rely on the RTS; the public broadcaster, rather than news sites.

I used to pay for Le Temps for at least two or three years but eventually I stopped. I stopped because I wasn’t finding articles to read but also because of the very steep price. The Guardian is free, but we can contribute what we want or can afford. The NyTimes is cheaper and more affordable and has global news.

I stopped paying for Le temps because it was two to three times more expensive than the NyTimes and other publications. This bothers me because in my opinion they should offer a lower price. Plenty of countries speak French, and if Le Temps was priced like papers in other countries, then it would sell more subscriptions, at a lower price. At the time of writing Le Temps costs 579 CHF per year. It’s 29 CHF per month. The NYTimes is 90 Euros per year, after the second year.

The point is that although Google news is a challenge for newspapers it is also a promotional tool. I would use Google News Switzerland more, if all the articles weren’t hidden behind paywalls once I click through. It’s because I click through and see nothing, that I don’t bother with Swiss Google News and look at the US and UK versions instead.

With American and English news sources I can usually click through and read articles, without worrying about paywalls so I click, and read the content, before returning to Google News.


If it wasn’t for paywalls Google News would be a great way of following Swiss News but because of paywalls when we see an article we want to read, it becomes less relevant. With Google News UK and US we can usually click through and read articles so Google News is a great resource for finding relevant articles to read, and possibly share.

Without paywalls we visit sites, read articles and see ads, if they are self-hosted. If they are farmed off then people like me see them less often. On a Pi4 and a Pi5 ad blockers make sense because ads slow down and crash Pi computers.