The history (or lack of) online news outlets

The Internet (although created years earlier) became popular or ‘mainstream’ towards the end of the 90s, and really took off in the 21st century. So much so, that in 2002, there were over 631 million internet users worldwide. But what’s surprising, is that until recently (the last 10 years) there were not many online news websites that offered a ‘different’ take on news.

Of course, most of the major UK news outlets, such as the BBC and ITV, got online early, perhaps correctly anticipating the huge impact of the Internet. In fact, both these organisations came online in the 90s (ITV in 1994 and BBC in 1997).

Here’s a screenshot of BBC’s website from 1998, which makes me feel physically ill.


But what I find interesting, is that websites we have come to rely on, such as Buzzfeed or The Huffington Post, are far more recent creations. (Buzzfeed was created in 2006, and The Huffington Post just a year earlier in 2005). These websites were groundbreaking in their style, offering more than just solid news, which makes them stand out ahead of more traditional news websites.

So it appears that until midway through the noughties, websites like these simply didn’t exist. I personally can’t imagine the Internet without these ‘lighter’ news outlets, that offer a refreshing, more user-friendly angle than the likes of BBC, ITV or any other major outlet.

Just for fun, here’s another horrible screenshot, this time, taken from CNN’s site in 2000.






  1. Playing the devil advocate; These websites were created in the era of the internet becoming mainstream and actually available to the public as you said in the late 90’s, this was amazing to the targeted audience that they can actually read the news through their home computer which took about 10 minutes to load that “physically ill” causing page you’ve uploaded.
    Try to look at it through the eyes of someone born in the 70’s, or through the eyes of the media text suppliers themselves (CNN & BBC) this was a great opportunity for both parties, getting news updates without leaving your house was something so mind-blowing, not to mention how good it was for the producers to gain more audience through the internet too.
    I also want to link this to my blog-post which compared how the internet is being used by us now (to pretty much be entertained and amused by things like BuzzFeed with articles like “21 Bite-Size Desserts That Are More Satisfying Than A Boyfriend”) and the uses of the internet when it was in it’s early stages where it was actually used for useful and meaningful things, not saying that you can’t do that today but the main reason behind using the internet today is different.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I can’t imagine NOT having different sources such as BuzzFeed or Huffington Post. I think it’s crucial that we do have hard news sources like BBC or New York Times, but I also think it’s great that there are other media outlets that do more than just news. I used to hate BuzzFeed because of their writing style and quizzes, but they’ve expanded to include more hard news stories in addition to fun quizzes and listicles. I think a diverse pool of media outlets gets more people engaged and involved within media consumption! Also the screenshots from the websites are so painful it hurts my eyes. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

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