Over the last few years I have come to rely on Google News. It provides the most links to every news story, and scanning the main page gives me a one-minute view of the headlines, not just globally but in my areas of interest.
But lately publishers have been screwing Google News with new policies, and Google News has in turn been screwing its readers.
The reason: paywalls. Publishers think you should pay for reading their stuff. Fine, I won't read my stuff.
But Google doesn't want to piss them off, and still links to it. Worse, it now links without identifying the paywall. This is sometimes because it has made deals with publishers for “publicity” purposes, giving those who link to stories through Google News some access to the actual stuff. (Although if you try to leave that particular page you quickly find you're out of luck.)
It's for this reason that I avoid The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. I can find out what's going on without them, thank you very much. They are not as essential as they think. And if we're forced to pay separately for each newspaper we look at online, how many papers are we going to look at? Exactly.
The purpose of these paywalls isn't so much to make money as to eliminate competition. Make a successful paywall a requirement for competing and there will be a whole lot less competition.
Worse is what Google is allowing The Financial Times to do. They offer a story on Google News, but if you click on it you don't go to the story. Instead you go to the paper's main page. This is a strategy right out of Murdoch, circa 1998, and it's stupid. I have sometimes found Google adding a preliminary page to this hosing, saying that you're going to some long URL (which savvy readers can identify as the home page, although it includes all sorts of cookie data in it) and you should click here to give permission for the move.
Not good enough.
The old policy made sense. Identify when there's a paywall, or a forced subscription wall. Let me make the choice whether to click or not.
Better yet. Don't offer a link to something you're not letting people link to. (Or charge for the link as you would for an ad, and identify it as such.)