A Guide to Non-Paywalled Finance and News Sources to Share

I grew up in the late sixties and early seventies in a middle-class, suburban home in Canada. When they built my childhood house, there were no fences in the backyards – none. Of course, there was a legal property line, but not a physical fence. As kids, we used to play in everyone’s backyards. Eventually, fences started going up dividing the backyards. And as we grew up, the front yards and the streets offered more interesting activities anyway.

This reminds me of the early days of the internet and the World Wide Web. The “information superhighway” as we used to call it. Open protocols, lots of interlinking and the promise of enlightenment from all of this free content.

These days, everywhere you look, walls are going up – figuratively and literally.

I am not a fan of paywalled news sites. They’re not a good business model for many media organizations and they’re bad for democracy. But mostly, paywalls are irksome for me because they are barriers to an internet based on sharing. And I’m a huge advocate of sharing information and insight freely and openly as a communication strategy in the information age.

In this article, I’m going to make a case for why current paywall subscription models are the wrong approach to monetizing news and insight. At the end, I am also going to suggest a bunch of publications that have not deployed paywalls – yet. And these are sites that you should be actively using as sources for your news sharing.

Paywalls Discourage Sharing Content 

One reason paywalls suck is that I like to read a wide range of media sources to get a broad perspective and paywalls just get in the way of that. It’s too expensive to subscribe to 10, let alone 20 or more publications whose insights I regularly want exposure to.

Let me say at the outset that I understand the production of news coverage and analysis is valuable work, and I understand journalists need to get paid and that news media organizations are businesses that need to make a profit, and I get that the big social media sites are eating their lunch. But I just don’t think the individual publication paywall makes good business sense. 

Yes, a paywall generates subscription revenue, but that revenue comes at a huge cost. Since the pricing of subscriptions limits how many people are willing to pay, there is a limited market which favours the the bigger, more prestigious media brands over the smaller ones. And the very paywall itself discourages sharing this gated content. Why share a Wall Street Journal (WSJ) article if the majority of your social media followers cannot access the article because they don’t own a subscription to that publication?

Of course, some people still do share articles from their favourite paywalled publications, but I’m not sure why. I think in some cases, it is an oversight. People just don’t think about it because they are subscribers. 

But really, why would you share a paywalled article? You really shouldn’t because it’s annoying to your audience. How do you feel when someone shares what looks like a good article on LinkedIn or Twitter and you click on it only to hit that paywall? Personally, I wonder why they shared it in the first place. It’s a similar feeling to when someone shares a broken link that you click and get a 404 missing page error. Mild annoyance. Inconvenience. Maybe you reach out and tell the person their link is broken so they can fix it. Or more likely you just move on. Attention is a fleeting thing.

Paywalls bad for sharing – and they’re bad, ultimately, for a democracy – but that’s a much larger discussion. The Washington Post’s slogan is spot on: Democracy dies in darkness. Ironically, it’s paywall is contributing to the darkness that will reign since every non-WaPo subscriber in our democracy is left in the dark.

If the paywall business model was such a good strategy for distributing information, why did many (most?) publications put their COVID-19 pandemic coverage outside the paywall? If something is really important and people’s health and safety depend on it, the paywalls get dropped precisely because they are barriers – to the public accessing important information and to attracting new readership.

The High Cost of Staying Informed

I recently ran a small poll on LinkedIn asking how much people would be willing to spend on paywalled media and news content. The results were surprising (or perhaps not), further undermining the viability of the business model of paywalls. Only six percent of respondents said they would be willing to pay $100 per month, while seventy-three percent stated they would not pay for any news whatsoever. People don’t want to pay for news subscriptions and they are unwilling to pay a large cumulative amount for numerous subscriptions. 

“I refuse to pay for any paywalls. I take the point of view that if a publication wishes me to share one of their stories, and thereby gain more followers for themselves as a result, then I should be allowed to use the story free. Indeed, they should pay me for sharing it!” ~ Frank Feather 

New business models are needed to serve both media companies and consumers better. Some kind of micro-payments or crypto technology could be part of the solution, especially one that incentivizes sharing and audience-building as well as revenue generation. Or an uber-subscription model that aggregates paywalled sites offers broader reading options. I guess that’s kind of what Apple News is, technically. 

“I want a micropayment solution for buying what I want to read in the moment.  Subscribing to a single source makes no sense to me. It is like buying Cable and having 4 channels I watch and 372 I don’t watch.”  ~ Dion Lisle 

Here are a group of reputable news sources that are paywalled, but incorporate some limited access to content based on a set amount of articles for free or allowing specific content for free. However, for full subscription access to these publications, your yearly costs would be somewhere in the range of $1,800 annually.

Sample List of Non-Paywalled News Sites

In light of this and while we are all waiting for a better solution than subscribing to individual publications we set out to highlight some of our top go-to publications for both staying informed and sharing insightful content with others in social networks: 

News sites: 

The Conversation: site | feeds
Inform public debate with knowledge-based journalism that is responsible, ethical and supported by evidence.

The Guardian: site | feeds
The Guardian is the world’s leading liberal voice. Covering American and international news for an online, global audience.

BBC News: site | feeds
The BBC covers breaking news events around the world, committed to providing trusted, accurate, impartial and independent accounts. 

CBC News: site | feeds
CBC News is Canada’s publicly owned news and information service.

Reuters: site | feeds
Thomson Reuters is a leading provider of news and information-based tools to professionals. 

Business publications:

Business2Community: site | feeds
Delivers a balanced view of the current business landscape for professionals based on industry news and trends, and real-life experiences. 

Canadian Business: site | feeds
News, commentary, and advice for business leaders, entrepreneurs, investors and leaders.

Forbes: site | feeds
A global media company with a focus on news and information about business, investing, technology, entrepreneurship, leadership and affluent lifestyles. 

Huffington Post: site | feeds
An American news curator and blog, with localized and international editions, recognized as liberal-leaning.

NPR: site | feeds
An independent, nonprofit media organization,  offering up a daily source of unbiased independent news, and inspiring insights on life and the arts.

Politico: site | feeds
An American political journalism that covers politics and policy both in the US and the world..

Vox: site | feeds
A liberal-leaning American news and general interest site. Discusses politics, public policy, world affairs, pop culture, science, and business. 

World Economic Forum: site | feeds
An international organization for public-private cooperation encouraging discourse among political, business, and leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas.

Technology publications: 

Andreessen Horowitz: site | feeds
Delivers content to connect entrepreneurs, investors, executives, engineers, academics, industry experts, and others in the technology ecosystem

Ars Technica: site | feeds
A trusted source for technology news, tech policy analysis, and breakdowns of the latest scientific advancements. 

CNet: site | feeds
A destination for tech product news.

Gizmodo: site | feeds
Gizmodo is a design, technology, science and science fiction website.

TechCrunch: site | feeds
A news website dedicated to the tech scene, providing breaking technology news, opinions, and analysis on tech companies from around the world.

Tech Republic: site| feeds
An online resource for enterprise technology analysis and advice from IT industry experts.

ZDnet: site | feeds
Delivers 24/7 news coverage and analysis on the trends, technologies, and opportunities for IT professionals and decision-makers.

Entrepreneurial publications: 

Entrepreneur: site | feeds
A national business publication providing guidance to navigate the challenges of business ownership.

Fast Company: site | feeds
Delivers an editorial focus on innovation in technology, leadership, world-changing ideas, creativity, and design. 

Ideas at TED: site | feeds
A compilation of content and knowledge derived from the world’s most inspired thinkers. site | sitemap
Entrepreneurial and leadership oriented content for innovative business leaders.

ReadWrite: site | feeds
Delivers the latest news, analysis, and conversations on IoT and the connected world.

Venture Beat: site | feeds
Leading source for transformative tech news and events geared towards artificial intelligence, machine learning, and data. 

Financial publications: 

Financial Advisor: site | feeds
Delivers essential market information and strategies to help advisors better serve their clients. 

Financial Brand: site | feeds
Covers digital banking and financial services, with news and opinion on how financial businesses are succeeding in digital transformation.

Finextra: site | feeds
Covers a wide scope of fintech news geared towards banking and financial technology professionals.

Global Banking and Finance: site | feeds
Providing a balanced view of informative and independent news within the financial community. 

Investors Business Daily: site | feeds
Financial news and research organization for individuals and professional investors. 

Kiplinger: site | feeds
Publishes business forecasts and personal finance advice, in print and online.

MarketWatch: site | feeds
Business, finance, and investing news, operating as part of The Wall Street Digital Network. 

Money: site | feeds
Personal finance news and advice on saving, spending, investing, retirement, careers, real estate, tech, and healthcare.

MoneySense: site | feeds
A Canadian investment and lifestyle brand about all things money.

The Motley Fool:  site | feeds
Delivers a variety of content focussed on financial well-being, including investment portfolios, personal finances, and real estate holdings. 

PYMNTS: site | feeds
Online coverage of payments news and top industry trends. Insight and reporting on payments, commerce, FinTech and innovation.

ThinkAdvisor: site | feeds
Delivering content geared to financial advisors, wealth managers and other financial professionals providing industry news, regulatory and compliance trends, retirement developments, portfolio products, and more.

Financial Blogs: 

Abnormal Returns: site | feeds
Tadas Viskanta, Director of Investor Education at Ritholtz Wealth Management delivers a blog designed to educate clients and financial advisers on the best practices of investing and personal finance.

The Aleph Blog: site | feeds 
Investment professional David Merkel provides  insight and stock market education expertise for investors. 

The Belle Curve: site | feeds
Ritholtz Wealth Management Investment advisor Blair duQuesnay shares her learnings on investing and financial planning. 

The Big Picture: site | feeds
A long-standing finance weblog covering everything investing related since 2003 delivered by Barry L. Ritholtz co-founder, chairman, and chief investment officer of Ritholtz Wealth Management LLC. 

The Finanser: site | feeds
Chris Skinner, one of the most influential people in technology, provides his independent commentary on the happenings in the financial markets and fintech. 

Fintech Futures: site | feeds
A publishing platform for the worldwide tech community providing news and analysis of the global fintech sector. 

Future of Finance: site | feeds
Written and curated by Lex Sokolin, a futurist and fintech entrepreneur, this weekly edition pulls out top fintech and crypto developments, and connects them to the broader industry

Innovate Finance: site | feeds
Innovate Finance is a not for profit industry body for FinTech in the UK incorporating both news and research online. 

Mauldin Economics: site | feeds
Chief economists and financial writer John Mauldin writes to help individual investors and institutions develop a clearer understanding of the forces driving the global economy and investment markets.

Nerd’s Eye View: site | feeds
A popular financial planning industry blog by renowned financial planner Michael Kitces

Pragmatic Capitalism: site | feeds
Providing relevant news and commentary by investment industry expert Cullen Roche the site is designed for collaboration from many different financial experts.

The Reformed Broker: site | feeds 
New York City-based financial advisor and the CEO of Ritholtz Wealth Management, Joshua Brown blogs about markets, politics, economics, media, culture and finance.

The Simple Path To Wealth: site | feeds
JL Collins writes about money, life, business and travel. 

A Wealth of Common Sense: site | feeds
Ben Carlson from Ritholtz Wealth Management LLCfocuses on wealth management, investments, financial markets and investor psychology.

Note: This list is not comprehensive and I am not able to include all the worthy publications that I benefit from, therefore, I welcome any suggestions or corrections.

Disclosure: I do subscribe to a handful of news publications on line. My monthly subscriptions total less than $50.

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  1. This is a helpful list. A few comments:

    – There are browser extensions that can bust through paywalls. Some work better than others and many work for only a short period of time as websites try to stop them.

    – Many paywalls are simple and can be busted by deleting your browser site cookies and or clearing your cache

    – Sometimes using a search engine to find a particular article and then going to the article via the search engine will work.

    – I will share paywalled links occasionally on the theory that many people know ways to get past paywalls.

    – Paywalled sites are little different from the “echo chambers” that so many complain about because they restrict the reading/commenting audience to those who can or will pay for their content.

    – Sometimes, using an RSS reader may give access to full articles, even if paywalled.

    Here’s one other useful financial source:

    Wall Street Breakfast (Requires free registration)

  2. I agree that “journalists need to get paid and that news media organizations are businesses that need to make a profit”.

    It’s unfortunate that traditional media hasn’t figured out how to provide a positive digital experience. It’s no wonder the “big social media sites are eating their lunch”.

    Many of the traditional media sites are just inserting a number of the same video promotions and ads into a content article. This random injection of ads makes for a really poor user experience and it’s no wonder that people don’t share their content (paywall or not).

    If media outlets made the effort to employ a few user experience professionals on their digital teams, they would likely have more traffic and improved content sharing… and less need for paywalls to help cover expenses.

    Thanks much for sharing this list of resources Jay, great content sharing as always!

  3. For a near-ideal micropayments solution, you should encourage people to switch to the Brave Browser. It has two important features:

    1) It allows payment of content providers monthly based on the relative amount of time the reader spends on the site. So if you spend 10% of your time on The Atlantic, 10% of your monthly voluntary payment goes to the Atlantic.
    2) It allows the reader to get paid if they agree to view adds. Readers can set the amount of advertising content they’re willing to put up with, getting paid more or less into their “wallet” that they can spend on content providers in #1 or even withdraw.

    This provides open access, easy sharing, incentives for news organizations allowing sharing since it increases attention and thus #1 payments, and options for people who are willing to pay by having advertisements flashed in their eyeballs, or not. For me, I keep the ads near zero but max out my own monthly contribution.

    1. I’m paywalled at Forbes too. Maybe it’s a regional thing. I’m able to get to it without article limit using a another country.

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