As pay-walls go up, free alternative news sources arise

With newspapers across the country struggling to pay expenses, pay-walls are going up at more and more of their web sites. These pay-walls require users to pay for online content that they've become accustomed to getting for free. As old institutions buckle down and attempt to restrict access, new organizations are bringing together human edited news pages to deliver free news stories to casual news consumers.

This past week Time magazine became the latest news source to add a pay-wall to its content, joining The Wall Street Journal (though it's pay-wall is fairly easy to circumvent) and London's Times and Sunday Times. The New York Times plans to add a pay-wall next year. Clearly, many traditional news organizations have concluded they can no longer afford to give away their content, which is costly to produce.

In the wake of these walls going up news readers have turned to algorithm and community driven news sites for a quick fix of the most pertinent news and headlines but often these sites focus on a specific niche, leaving it up to the reader to visit one site for political info, another for technology and yet another to catch up on sports or entertainment. To complicate things, these non-human edited sources are subject to gaming, which allows select users to collude for a spot on the front page.

One new entrant, Spotery, is eschewing the ways of algorithms and focusing on bringing human powered front page news to the masses. The site, which launched today, allows users to submit their favorite news stories like other community websites, but a team of human editors curate the front page. These editors are also plugged into what's hot so that they can bring the breaking news to the front page, and to your screen, quickly.

Limor Elkayam, the CEO of Spotery best described the site as the perfect "water cooler cheat-sheet," explaining that visitors could find out what's going on in the world in five minutes.

In addition to pushing this news to you, Spotery also goes out to bring in related content. So, there are several viewpoints and sources of information around every story. For example if you were interested in the NBA's Lebron James' decision to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers, you could go to Spotery and find a roundup of pertinent news and analysis from major sports publications in print and video. Similar news coverage was devoted to the Lindsay Lohan case, the Barefoot bandit and the World Cup.

What will happen to sites like Spotery when more pay-walls go up? "As news sites go behind a pay-wall, Spotery will still link to the articles that are no longer free, so long as our editors have pre-vetted those articles and believe the content is of value to our users." Elkayam told WalletPop, adding that the editors would, "ensure readers aren't going to run up against a pay-wall unless that content really is of value to them."

If the news is all behind a pay-wall, Spotery's editors will summarize the basic news points of articles for user and leave it up to individual readers to decide if they want to continue to the pay-wall content.

At its core Spotery is a news site that makes use of an editorial team and user submissions to make it easier for on-the-go individuals to stay on top of the news. Spotery and similar websites may not have all of the in depth details that a full New York Times article has but it for many users it's just what they're looking for.


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