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Text only news websites (2022) (wturrell.co.uk)
197 points by michaelrkn on March 26, 2023 | hide | past | favorite | 125 comments



I get most of my daily news from ... Teletext [1]. I'm lucky to be in a country that still has it.

I much prefer that format over news sites on the web: Headlines are often laid out in a list one entry below the other, which is easy to read through without having to scroll. Because pages are limited to 40 columns × 24 rows, every article is short and to the point.

I don't usually read it on TV though but on a web-site [2] which has transformed page numbers into hyperlinks, and given multi-pages a tab-like interface. There are still no images, no ads ... and especially no auto-playing videos. Perfect!

Recently though, I've spent a lot of time in a hospital bed and it has been easier for me then to use the TV remote with one hand to check teletext than to use the tablet or smartphone.

[1] <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teletext>

[2] <https://texttv.nu/> (Swedish SVT Text)


What a dream. I wish this was available in english.


We have teletext in Spain too, (several of them) but as a "Computer" alternative I use EFE's (state news agency) RSS under sfeed+uxterm with the Unifont font.

Pretty close to our different Teletext services.


Also available in Denmark (DR): https://www.dr.dk/cgi-bin/fttv1.exe/110





This is the better version, since it delivers actual text instead of png's: https://text.orf.at


Check out https://markets.sh news. They are actually text only, from many different sources, clustered and summarized. It is really good to get a gist of what’s currently important without having to “read news” with the known nuisances that come with it.

Edit, thank you for the feedback. Some clarifications:

- we launched the news feature literally yesterday, it is MVP level so expect inaccuracies especially in the summaries. We are using our own models and are in the process of tuning and refining them. Clicking on the cluster will give you the actual headline, titles and sources for each cluster.

- the ordering of the feed is super simple right now. We will improve the weighting based on recency, magnitude of the story, coverage, parties involved etc.

- This is not text-only like text.npr.org but in the sense of not being stuffed with ads, autoplay videos and images. Both a real text-only statically rendered page and RSS feed are in the works.


Perhaps I'm missing something but for a text-only interface, why do you need javescript? I always disable it in my browser and your site shows very little without it. Ran it in a VM to allow JS see what it did and got "Application error: a client-side exception has occurred (see the browser console for more information)."


Yes sorry I should have been more clear here. Text-only as in no ads, video, etc. i will add a static build without any javascript to make up for it!

The site is focussed on financial data, charts and realtime updates. This is why it is javascript heavy despite visually simple.


Ah, gotcha! Please don't add a no-js site on my account, save your effort for something more profitable.


No worries, it is actually just a cdn-cached next view with a barebones layout on the feed. We really care about internet culture, bandwidth and consumption options and try to facilitate them wherever feasible.


> We really care about internet culture, bandwidth

I wish 99% of sites gave a damn about these things. Well, I approve, and good luck!


Me too! Luckily the open web now gets competition from LLMs. Hope this will clean up things. Seeing all these sloppy pages full of popups, ads and shit typography makes me so sad


Nice. Did you build this? If so, what's the tech stack you used?

I like the interface - compact and fast.


Thanks! Yeah, I’m one of the founders. It’s Nextjs on Supabase. We launched the news clustering just yesterday so I thought it would be nice to get some stealth HN feedback for it.

We are planning to launch an API (rss style) for the news next week where you can get temporal clusters and everything. Imagine having full access to all of Twitter trending but across all news sources.

We are trying to filter clickbait, SEO spam as effectively as possible while keeping nuance to the dataset.

Please sign up for an account or follow us on twitter if you would like to stay in the loop.


Genuine question: I wonder why you didn't think to disclose your relationship with the product? I notice this a lot, and it ruins my perspective of the product. Haven't you seen people start their comments with "full disclosure, I made this" type sentences.


Was it a relevant suggestion for you? If yes, then what benefit does the disclosure provide? If not, then downvote and say so?

In this particular case, I think halotrope just didn't think the dislosure was necessary. They have a link to the website in their profile and aren't trying to hide the affiliation.

Full disclosure: I'm not related to halotrope in any way nor to the website in question.


Not the OP but yes, I think it's tacky. If you're shamelessly plug your own product you should say so.


Since you asked for some, here's my immediate 2 cents:

Please change the slide out on the left to be visible permanently.

I have 1920 pixels of horizontal screen real estate, and the page is quite literally half empty whitespace anyway. For what conceivable reason is that menu on the left a hidden-by-default slide out? It even hides pertinent stock information.

Also concerning the stock information, please add some whitespace margin on the bottom. Chrome displays URL information on the bottom left of the window when hovering links and it overlaps and obstructs visibility of whatever stock ends up displayed at the bottom left of the window.


Thank you, the feedback is appreciated and makes a lot of sense! I have added a little pin icon on the bottom left of the sidebar to keep it open.


If you add stocks to your watchlist it will populate the empty whitespace with a table containing Watchlist Movers.


Thank you for the whitespace suggestion too, will check that tomorrow.


I like this, is your quote data live or delayed? Sparklines in your watchlist would be most welcome, plus better charts in general; candlesticks, range % between two points etc.


Thank you! We have realtime data but IEX only, sorting the contract work out for at the moment to get tick-level realtime for US equities

The sparklines and better charts are being worked on. We hope to get a new version out early April, right now focussing on the API and Chat functionality.


Have you used Modo News?

It would be nice if your interface sorted the sources by bias and let you side between different summaries. In the upper right corner of Modo you can swap between timeline view (seeing past incarnations of a story as it progresses, or lean view that let’s you see various bias.)


I just want to say "me too", the site is great. I rarely use twitter, but will follow you.

But dumb question, what do I follow ? :)


Thank you! Sorry, lol. @markets_sh


Comment

The summaries for several headlines are completely bogus, which undermines any credibility that this was a reliable site. For example, the Lufthansa Strike blames a technical issue, not the strike that all linked articles discuss. Next, the Khazahstan election summary mentions voters in Turkey and Turkmenistan. There’s also duplicated stories, and other obvious issues any human editor would catch.

I suspect this is secretly powered by some AI that doesn’t actually work all that well.


Hi, thank you for the feedback. I should have added that we launched it yesterday so it there is still some quirks. Yes, we use language models to do the summaries, they are not perfect yet and the feed ordering also needs to be improved.

Since you get the actual news headlines and teaser on the detail, we assume some inaccuracies are ok for now. The primary focus right now is clustering and a high-level overview over the news landscape. Especially to get perspectives about an event from many different sources.

We are iterating quickly and expect this to somewhat stable and reliable by mid April.

Would appreciate if you had a look back again then to share your feedback.


Hi, cool project! Which language models are you using for the summaries?


Quite a few actually. We will do a writeup once everyting is stable and post it on HN


This is not text-only like text.npr.org but in the sense of not being stuffed with ads, autoplay videos and images

Ah. That explains why in Lynx all I see is a dozen instances of:

  Loading
   This is also still loading.
  This will be loaded shortly.


>They are actually text only,

Interesting claim considering there are 276 image tags in the HTML: https://imgur.com/a/x9ODk0r


The icons are super small but I get your point. Text-only in a way of no autoplay video, ads, big pictures etc right now. We are planning to launch true (like text.npr.org) text version and RSS as well.


How do you retrieve news topics? Are you using some sort of news API or are you just scraping a ton of sites?

If the latter, isn't that illegal or against their terms of service in some way?


This seems very promising. Have you considered adding an RSS feed?


Thank you! Yes we are hoping to launch the Rest API and RSS within March


That sounds very nice, I've been looking for a good service like this. Is there a way to subscribe for updates so I know when new features are released?


@markets_sh on Twitter. We are planning to add a newsletter but all suffer from email marketing fatigue a bit.


Cool, thanks a lot!


I can't find a way to delete my account in settings. How do you do it?


Sorry, I will add a button right now. This was in the backlog a bit too long.


Alright, I still can't find any button though. By the way, newsletter notifications were automatically checked, I think most users would prefer to have it disabled by default.


where


I can't copy text from articles. Is that by design?


Sorry that must be a bug. Looking into it!


For sports, ESPN does have http://www.espn.com/nba/lite/scoreboard, but most of the links go back to the normal website. It may have been been more robust in the past, but I don't imagine anyone works on it anymore. It seems like the developer listed in the credits (http://www.espn.com/espn/lite/credits) last worked there in 2002!!

So if you're looking for a sports alternative, https://plaintextsports.com (which I made) works great! All the scores, play-by-play, box scores, standings, and schedules, but just no news stories. Blazing fast.

(No, it's not technically "Content-Type: text/plain", it uses HTML and CSS. Yes, I know it's not necessarily easier to read; it's an aesthetic. Yes, this is shameless self-promotion.)


What a good experience is checking NBA info on your site!


Can you include the MMA leagues: UFC, PFL, ONE?



> There's also http://text.npr.org/

Lots of great sources in the link below. I already had my own list of the usual players but this link covers many more I didn't know existed:

https://greycoder.com/a-list-of-text-only-new-sites/

The only site that I rarely see mentioned (or included in the link above) is : http://www.dailymail.co.uk/textbased/channel-561/index.html


It's mentioned in the article under "Other Sites".


Which I find intensely funny, because it’s forced on all EU IP addresses as an ostensible downgrade, but since they’ve added a decent CSS snippet to limit the line width I actually find it superior to the “full” version.


This was a lifeline for me when we were on an unstable DSL line for a year!


I too was using text-only versions of sites like CNN, Reuters, or Christian Science Monitor[1], and they were fine. But what I really wanted was to turn any news website into a text-only website.

So I build NewsWaffle, which for any website:

https://github.com/acidus99/NewsWaffle

* Automatically builds a list of news stores, separate from the navigational hyperlinks.

* Detects RSS/Atom feeds to provide a more accurate list of news stories.

* Uses Readability to show only article content on article pages.

* Uses meta data like OpenGraph or Twitter cards to provide richer formatting, and to determine page type.

It regularly converts 900 KB home pages or 1.2 MB news articles into into 3KB for links to news stories and 5K of text

It does this by:

* Using semantic tags like <header>, <footer>, and <nav> to determines which hyperlinks are navigational and which ones are likely links to news articles.

* OpenGraph meta data to determine page type news stories and extra metadata.

* A Aggressive HTML parser that strips out a ton of tags, CSS, JS, etc

* Readability library to extract out the text of news articles

I built this as a service in Gemini, so if you have a gemini browser you can try it. Otherwise, here is a HTTP-to-gemini proxy showing you what a NYT article looks like:

Gemini link: gemini://gemi.dev/cgi-bin/waffle.cgi/

NYT Homepage: https://portal.mozz.us/gemini/gemi.dev/cgi-bin/waffle.cgi/li...

NYT Article: https://portal.mozz.us/gemini/gemi.dev/cgi-bin/waffle.cgi/ar...

[1] https://www.csmonitor.com/text_edition


Pretty amazing.

I tested aldaily.com and had trouble navigating to get to the articles. Allsides.com worked. Techmeme.com did not work.

gemini://gemi.dev/cgi-bin/waffle.cgi/links?https%3A%2F%2Fallsides.com%2F

https://portal.mozz.us/gemini/gemi.dev/cgi-bin/waffle.cgi/li...


Thanks for letting me know. aldaily works great in raw mode:

gemini://gemi.dev/cgi-bin/waffle.cgi/raw?https%3A%2F%2Fwww.aldaily.com%2F

Clicking on the "more" links which take you to the news articles also works properly as well.

(you can get to raw mode by clicking "Force article view" and then "raw mode." I should probably expose that in other places)

NewsWaffle tries to determine the type of page. Articles get displayed with content run through readability, and then the HTML is stripped down. If its a "links" page, like the home or section page on a news site, it using HTML elements to try and find links to news stories vs navigational links to other parts of the site. Part of that is looking for links with longer text, since link text to news stories tend to be a few words. This helps sort "About Us" from "New Fusion Experiment a Success"). I'll check into why aldaily isn't working properly

Sorry I can't seem to reproduce the Techmeme issue. It works for me:

gemini://gemi.dev/cgi-bin/waffle.cgi/view?https%3A%2F%2Fwww.techmeme.com


Do the techmeme links click through?


This is fantastic, now I can view news in Gemini all day. Thank you, we need more gemini sites or tools to convert HTML to it.


What are you using for a Gemini client? Lynx handles Gopher URLs, so I presumed it would be OK with Gemini, but no luck.

Any suggestions?


For the terminal, I use amfora: https://github.com/makew0rld/amfora

For a GUI, I use Lagrange: https://github.com/skyjake/lagrange

Lagrange is sort of the Netscape of Gemini. It works on all the major desktop and mobile OSes. Personally prefer Elaho (iOS) or Buran (Android) for mobile


Absolutely great! It makes https://antiwar.com work better than the actual website.


Great!

A request: In the linked NY Times front page, more formatting for the article list, maybe blank lines between articles. Visually, it's a challenge.


I didn't know I needed this so much.


This is excellent! Wow.


Someone on here shared https://brutalist.report/ a few months back and I’ve been using that. Dead simple, no bullshit.


So comprehensive my overload alarms start going off. Still though, good suggestion.


> If you’re a Facebook user…

> mbasic.facebook.com

> Ideal if you’re the kind of person who just quickly needs to check the feed and go away again. There’s no javascript so it feels (and definitely is) faster and less bloated. The design is nicely old fashioned.

I've been using this site for years but it's increasingly bit rotting and regularly serves broken links.


Until a few days ago the best solution for text only + no ads + offline reading was a kindle subscription to whichever periodical you fancy. This is gone now.

Nook still has a newstand store (for now?) but I haven't used it so can't comment on the formatting and UX.


I still subscribe to text (and images, but no video), no ads, offline reading news sites on my Kindle. Not through the Kindle subscription but through a local downloader (Calibre).


I'm surprised this didn't mention Wikipedia's Current Events Portal https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portal:Current_events

I also use teddit.net which is essentially a plaintext reddit https://teddit.net/r/worldnews


In my case, gopher://gopherddit.com under Lynx. As for the config -file:

     cp /etc/lynx.cfg $HOME/.lynx.cfg 
    export LYNX_CFG=$HOME/.lynx.cfg
At lynx.cfg:

VIEWER:application/postscript:fbgs %s VIEWER:image/gif:sxiv -a %s VIEWER:image/x-xbm:sxiv -a %s VIEWER:image/png:sxiv -a %s VIEWER:image/tiff:sxiv -a %s VIEWER:image/jpeg:sxiv -a %s VIEWER:video/mpeg:mpv %s VIEWER:video/mp4:mpv %s

Install sxiv and mpv, of course.


This has become my main source of news for the past couple of years. I highly recommend it.

There's a GitHub repository floating around somewhere with code for an rss feed of it which works great for getting it on mobile.


Question:

When reading programming tutorials or a write up about a tech concept do you prefer if the article has a hero image or not? This would be an image loaded at the top which sums up the title of the post visually.

On a related note, personally if someone has 500 blog posts I'd like to see them in a condensed bullet list so I can scan the titles super fast. I don't want to see images and have 10 loaded per page. It turns something from a 2 minute effortless quick scan to dozens of clicks and potentially 20 minutes.

However, in practice having images for each post seems to get more engagement (ie. people clicking things and beginning to read your article). I never understood why in the context of programming. I understand pictures are useful for hardware or if you need to make a diagram. I'm mainly talking about the hero image here.


Is the engagement lead to extended time engagement, or is just click engagement? I remember, I think it was intuit, their knowledge base was a matrix of pictures with very little text. That obtained no engagement from me as I was unwilling to click into each every picture to see if it was relevant or not. I guess their click rate goes up, but their duration engagement goes down.


Technical marketer here.

I hate fluff. I can spot it a mile away. If you have a hero image that adds no value then don't use it. If it has a related screenshot with interesting or useful information in it (like a code snippet and resulting output that the tutorial covers), that might be useful.

Otherwise just... don't.


I run an experimental service to turn web articles into plain text (No HTML) by prefixing the URL with 'txtifiy.it/'.

Doesn't work on all articles: https://txtify.it


Suggestion… Assume “https” if it’s not explicitly entered.


We should make an 'awesome-text-only' github repo with all these.


There is `chubin/awesome-console-services`[0]

Btw, Igor Chubin is the author of great CLI services such as: cheat.sh[1], late.nz[2], QRenco.de[3],rate.sx[4]

[0] https://github.com/chubin/awesome-console-services

[1] https://github.com/chubin/cheat.sh

[2] https://github.com/chubin/late.nz

[3] https://github.com/chubin/qrenco.de

[4] https://github.com/chubin/rate.sx



bookmarked


Lynx web/gopher browser and if you tweak it a little, you can open the linked images with sxiv for instance:

   - gopher://magical.fish

   - gopher://gopherddit.com

   - gopher://mozz.us

   - gopher://gophernews.net


https://lite.cnn.com is my go to source. Extremely minimal and can look at all headlines so quickly.


There's also https://neuters.de, a Nitter-like alternative frontend for Reuters.


Try https://skimfeed.com , it's my daily for tech news and how I got here.


Whilst it's headlines only, FreshNews.org still exists (and after a scare last year has been updated to function with today's site engineering), and provides a dense presentation of (mostly tech-related) stories from 33 sites (default, customisable with a log-in):

<https://freshnews.org/>


I love RMS's daily news, his PoV is very close to my one so the link [1] is a great source of political news.

[1] https://www.stallman.org/archives/2023-jan-apr.html


I’m sure CNN has offices and studios in New York, but it is certainly still headquartered in Atlanta.


For business news: https://biztoc.com/light | topic-clustered: https://biztoc.com/hot


This is better than nothing but the news item links go to non-text-friendly sites. Many of the other sites mentioned also have the linked news articles in a text-friendly format.


That's more of an aggregator, not a news website.



axios.com has almost only text, other than that https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portal:Current_events is really good


If you are in the US, this weather and news broadcast application is a good resource: https://www.locserendipity.com/Start.html


(2020) !!

.. and already dated wrt Thomson Reuters Foundation Trust link ( news.trust.org ) which is now archived and replaced by

https://www.context.news/


Text-based news pages are better because they allow readers to quickly scan through and absorb information, without being distracted by flashy graphics or autoplay videos.


Not sure of the premise behind this, so maybe I’m missing the point, but why not curate quality news sources and access them via an rss news reader like NetNewsWire?


I can think of a couple of reasons:

- He sees no point in adding another layer of abstraction and complexity to something simple.

- he's into retro computing, and old machines can't handle NNW.

- Fewer and fewer web sites support RSS, so using NNW limits his options.

- Sometimes you want to read the news from a particular web site, and not graze at a buffet.


Do fewer and fewer websites support RSS? All blog frameworks have support by default...


Do fewer and fewer websites support RSS?

According to the people complaining on HN, yes. It's been a common topic of conversation on this web site for the last five years or so.

No RSS here: https://www.rfi.fr

The New York Times does RSS, but among major news organizations, it is one of the exceptions.

All blog frameworks have support by default...

Good for blogs.


No, people just assume that they don't have one due to no RSS icon. `/feed` slug is standard for finding feeds these days.

Equally, why not just use one of the many FOSS tools to scrape sites that don't offer RSS feeds and DIY your own? This is a long-solved problem; RSS remains wonderful.


I love RSS. I actually believe that it may become more relevant in the future, now that AI is so good at producing noise.

It will be more and more difficult to make a Google/DDG/Kagi search and spot the autogenerated crap. So maybe it will be time to manually select blogs/websites we like and trust. And RSS is amazing for that.


100% my thoughts, mate. I definitely see it becoming the go-to tool for many in the future. It's got a lot going for it, including authenticated access to premium feeds, ergo people can monetize and allow their content to be consumed in a way that makes sense to the end user.

Still one of my favourite things to emerge on the net. Especially being able to filter through feeds!


I've been using many of the linked sites from the EWW browser in Emacs. I also use RSS for many things but I don't want that model for general news items. For that I prefer to have the snapshot view that the web pages provide.


What we need are more Gemini[1] sites. [1](https://geminiquickst.art/)



I suppose Lynx would be something similar. It is a console based web site browser, and as such, no pictures whatsoever are visible.




When GPT-4 with image recognition is available, i guess it will not difficult to build a GPT based text mode.


i made an automated news site that keeps an eye out for "happenings". it starts by showing the last 6 links found and automatically adds to the list if something new is found.

https://news.coffee


not necessarily native text, but a flowing list of news links:

irc.libera.chat has

  ##hntop - updated as hacker news item cream rises to the top
  ##news - common interest international stuff
  ##alerts - earthquakes, electricity, ...
maybe others


What about using an RSS reader? Or looking at AFP or Reuters news streams?


I oversee some digital signage that uses RSS to add the day's news.

We have two issues: there are fewer and fewer sources of RSS; and those that do exist frequently use meaningless titles like "Look at this!".

I can't really blame the news channels, they don't get any revenue from these streams.


Thanks. I didn't know this. Last time I used RSS it was a long time ago (in Google Reader) and at that time it was useful.


I’ve been getting a lot mileage out of safari’s and brave’s reader mode


Try Firefox's, which applies to many more pages IME.


no mention of https://legiblenews.com/ ?


One issue is that news sites article content is written to maximise ad impressions. Ads inject between paragraphs typically so you need lots of paragraphs. You start with perhaps two paragraphs of actual information, then break it down into 4 or more and add more information about related topics. Add some opinions, maybe weave in links to related articles on your site, and you end up with 10 or so paragraphs insterspersed with ads and pictures. You can remove the ads and pictures but you can't remove the bullshit. We need a good AI tldr machine.


I've counted upwards of ten advertising insertions in WaPo articles. Between paragraphs.

On desktop, I'll nuke any interstitial element (including "related stories" and the like) on sites. The calming factor between post- and pre-edited sites is ... somewhat nuts. One of my faves was old-school Buzzfeed, where I nuked anything but the actual headline and feature story, which I'd called "Unbuzzed".

(And yes, "Buzzfeed" itself is mostly trash, "Buzzfeed News" was/is actually somewhat respectable. I generally didn't seek out the sites, but occasionally clicked through on links from elswewhere.)


I don't need an automatic TL;DR machine to tell me news articles aren't worth reading.


Commenting to save in my history, this is right up my alley




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