What's news to you...
.. is usually information that's timely. Unlike this post, which is woefully late. I meant to have it out last Wednesday (on schedule), but this is a complex topic that's difficult to write about comprehensively, simply, and coherently! (Or so I've found.)
Regardless, let's talk about what skills we might develop (or share) to make us all better readers (and searchers!) of news.
What does one do to find good stuff?
A lot of this is going to be contingent on your beliefs and world-view. I'm not sure I can give you a single prescription that will work for everyone, in all cases, in all countries.
Let's revisit last week's Challenge and see what our SRS Regulars have to recommend:
1. When you're searching for news, what do YOU do? Do you have strategies and tactics that you follow? (NOTE: We don't want to hear what you do in theory--we want to know what you do in reality!)
This is tricky. In many cases, we KNOW what we should do, but there's not enough time to do the right thing. That's why I'm curious about what actually people do. There's often a big difference between what we believe is the best action, and what we actually do in our day-to-day behavior.
What did our SRS Regular Readers say?
Jeff points out a deep insight about news: “facts” are transitory truths, constantly being updated as new information is discovered. Keep this in mind as you wade through the news--our understanding of facts, what's going on, and how to interpret what we hear is constantly under revision. Remember that.
He uses a news aggregator (his favorite: Feedly). What's an aggregator? Sometimes also called a feed aggregator, feed reader, news reader, or RSS reader. It pulls together syndicated web content such as online newspapers, blogs, podcasts, and video blogs (vlogs) in one location for easy reading. There are many--you could search for them!
He also pays for subscriptions to quality news sources (in his case, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, New York Review of Books, Intercept, Mother Jones, The Economist, The New Yorker). He includes some out-of-country sources such as BBC, Al Jazeera.
[Dan: Note that these sources are all rather different from one another, with very different points of view about what's news and what counts as important. It's worth your while to check each of the sources listed in this post as possible resources for you.
ALSO, note that many of these resources offer some number of free articles / month for you to peruse. If you find yourself doing that often, consider paying for the subscription. It's the right thing to do. ]
Jeff also uses some fact-checking sites (e.g. Factcheck.org or Snopes.com )
In particular, Jeff's first response when people send you “news” (especially news that causes a strong reaction positive or negative) is to do some minimal checking.
[ Dan: This is what I do as well--if I get a strong emotional response to an article, either positive OR negative, then I'll do a quick Google search to see if there's variation in the way different news outlets are reporting it. Heuristic: If it surprises you, check out the surprise. Never forward (or Tweet) anything without checking first. Never. ]
Jeff also pays attention to media critics (e.g., Glenn Greenwald, Edward Snowden, Michelangelo Signorile, Robert Hubbell).
He also points to some topic specific news sites: - Panda (web design), Techmeme (technology), Metacritic (reviews of movies), (e)Science News (for a feed of science news).
[ Dan: I also have several topic-specific sites that I follow. You can find your own by searching for [ news site <topic> ] For instance, [ news site classical music ] will lead you to a bunch of newsy sites on that topic. ]
Mathlady likes to read news created from the place where an event is happening. Example: during the April 2010 oil leak (Deepwater Horizon blowout) Mathlady would news from New Orleans and Pensacola papers. They're both close to the event, so they have local reporters (and a vested interest).
She prefers international news for international events. BBC and Raidió Teilifís Éireann in Ireland – different POV.
[ Dan: For the same reason, and for a completely different point of view, I will sometimes check the Australian news services News.AU and the ABC (AU). ]
Ramon uses Google Discover (swipe right on your Android phone home screen). It's not exactly news, but is a tailored feed of newsy sites that is driven by your preferences and your searches. (See this article for full details.) It's really a version of "the Daily Me." Then News.Google.com – both US and Mexico versions.
He also checks Twitter for news updates, particularly for hyper-local (e.g. local fire / police). It's an important source of breaking news (but be cautious about the stream--for disasters, it's also a source of misinformation and rumors).
H.E cautions us to be aware of biases of sources. In particular, be aware of coverage or NON-coverage of an event based on local politics.
ikijibiki likes to read Stuff (local to New Zealand), and notices that reports are different when seen on laptop vs. phone. (That could be simply that they have different ways of assembling the feed for the two platforms.)
Remmij points out that you can search for
[ best news sources aggregators <LOCATION> ]
to find aggregators. (Note that if you leave <LOCATION> out of your search, you'll default to the current location. But if you want to search for somewhere else, like the old mother country, add in the location you'd like to read about.)
Remmij also points us to the Wikipedia current events portal (there's one line for each major news story, including many international stories). There's even an archive feature (see red circle in image below) that can take you back to Jan 1994, although depth of coverage drops over time.
[ Dan: I didn't know about this feature. I'll be using it in the future to look up recent (past) news stories! ]
Remmij ALSO uses a list of factchecking sites hosted by ISTE (a US-based instructional / educators organization).
Diane uses a variety of sources including "old-fashioned" RSS feeds. She's a fan of the Netvibes aggregator to creates her own Daily Me.
Serendipity, as a school librarian, has multiple subscriptions to top-quality news sources. They also for foreign language news sources to help triangulate a story from different points of view.
Melanie uses a local newspaper (paid subscription), with Google News for global. Social media of news outlets (esp. local). Melanie also uses AP fact check along with the AP false rumors of the week. (This is especially useful in conjunction with Snopes--together they just about cover most of the rumors / misinformation threads you'll see out there.)
2. What's the best advice you could give someone who is searching for great, high-quality news/late-breaking information? What's your advice / guidance / counsel?