1. Small Town Papers: http://www.smalltownpapers.com
The home page of this website proclaims "Browse and search the scanned newspaper archive from 1846 up to the current edition!" At the top there is a search box that invites you to type in the newspaper name or state. I tried Voice of the Valley (Maple Valley, Washington) and Benzonia (Michigan), both with no results. When I went to the Browse by State function, I discovered why. Michigan has exactly two newspapers listed. Maine has two, and Maryland has one. Washington state has quite a few newspapers listed, but none from Maple Valley, Kent, Covington, Des Moines or Fairwood. When I clicked on the Warren Weekly, from Warren, Indiana, I saw a link that said "latest issue". I would take that to mean an issue published in September 2014. However, the issue (and there appeared to be just the one) was from July 10, 2009. The same was true of the FSView (Tallahassee, FL; 3 March 2011), The Ogden Reporter (Ogden, Iowa, 8 July 2009) and the Clare County Review (Clare, Michigan, 20 Feb. 2009).
Summary: it's not worth the time.
2. U.S. Newspapers: http://www.usnpl.com.
This database fell way short in the newspapers that it didn't list. When I clicked on Washington, there were no listings for Maple Valley, Des Moines, Covington, Kent, or Fairwood. Michigan has no listings for Beulah, Benzonia, or Manistee; the latter has been publishing newspapers (sometimes 4 different titles at the same time) for well over 130 years. Whether a newspaper database is listing historic or current newspapers, I expect those to be included.
3. The Olden Times: http://www.theoldentimes.com
This website was off-putting the moment I saw it, with no clear way to search. When I clicked on "U.S. & International", there immediately opened a new window, inviting me to download something that "offers you the biggest movies and shows database while keeping you up to date with celebrity gossip..."
Are you kidding me?
When I went back to the main page and clicked on MI, the search took forever (i.e., more than five seconds). I got a mish-mash of a list of articles, in no discernible order, by location or date.
Summary: No, thank you.
4. NewspaperCat: http://www.newspapercat.org
On this one, I double and triple-checked the URL, because the home page opened up to a photo of a man and woman in bed together. I don't know if this website has been hijacked, or what. I tried opening it in a different browser, and tried changing the extension to .com, with the same result.
Summary: Um, no.
5. Home Town Free Press: http://www.hometownfreepress.com.
This website also had me a little leery, since it seemed geared for advertising to the "world traveler". When I clicked on "over 5,000 local news sites worldwide", and chose US, and looked at the list of newspapers from Washington state, The Voice of the Valley (Maple Valley) was not listed. Neither was the Record-Patriot, from Benzonia, Michigan.
Summary: I'll pass.
6. Refdesk.com: http://www.refdesk.com.
First view of this website was very confusing - way too many links, columns, colors, boxes, and other things to look at. When I located the link for newspapers (halfway down the page on the right), and looked at the list of Washington newspapers, I had the same negative results.
7. Newspaper Abstracts: http://www.newspaperabstracts.com
I'm generally not impressed when a website brags in numbers how many articles or pages they have. Australia only has 50 articles (really?), and England 840. When I clicked on US and then Michigan, they list exactly one article from Benzie county, an abstract from the Devil's Lake Daily Journal, a newspaper I've never heard of before, about an airplane crash in Lake Michigan in 1933.
Summary: Not worth it.
It's websites like these, that are confusing and misleading, or don't give me ALL the information I need, that prompted me to write Searching for Your Ancestors in Historic Newspapers. In it, I stuck to the tried and true: WorldCat. This is my go-to website for looking up newspapers, whether historic or current. I did some comparison searches on WorldCat and the US Newspaper Directory on Chronicling America, which confirmed my initial instinct. In WorldCat, I can find a listing for newspapers for Covington, Maple Valley and Des Moines, Washington, which includes the Maple Valley community newspaper, The Voice of the Valley, published for well over 30 years. The U.S. Newspaper Directory does not list any newspapers for those locations.
Overall Summary: There IS such a thing as too many choices! Stick to the best websites for information, and you won't go wrong.