Nish blogs at the Outdoor Wife and is the creator of A Deeper Story. She is passionate about living and writing all of this beautiful and sometimes mixed up life. You can follow her daily thoughts on Twitter.
If you know me at all through blogging, Twitter or Facebook, you'll know that I'm an avid reader of the news. Current events are totally my thing. Whether it's policy on healthcare or who's announcing their candidacy for President, I'm all over it. When it's my turn to write over at A Deeper Story, the topic usually covers an immediate news event... the Egyptian revolution, nuclear disarmament and the death of Osama bin Laden are a few of the things I've written about.
But, I know the news can be daunting, overwhelming and frustrating... so, I hope these tips will help you engage the world a little bit more and with more efficiency and intentionality.
1. Choose multiple sources. I think it's really important to have a broad range of news outlets to choose from. Different reporters will choose to cover different aspects of the same story - so by choosing multiple sources of information, you are able to understand a broader & fuller picture of the issue, unlike those that only read from one primary source.
2. Choose news from across multiple mediums. With the 24-hour news cycle always available on TV, it's easy to just turn on one of the news networks and get bombarded with information. The problem with only one news medium, particularly radio and TV, is that you're getting sound bites and snippets of a much bigger and deeper story. Make sure you include print in your collection.
3. Research & understand biases and emphasis. Some are obvious, and some aren't. If you read the Wall Street Journal, be mindful that it tends to bend towards the conservative ethos. If you read the New York Times, you'll learn that it tends to bend to the Left. The Washington Post generally has an emphasis on politics and foreign affairs (the political section is generally even, their foreign affairs reporting tends to lean Right). FOX News is unabashedly conservative, while MSNBC is blatantly liberal (I usually watch CNN. They generally fall in the middle. And they have Anderson Cooper. Amen? Amen.) So, before you completely sell out to one or more news outlets, be aware of their leanings.
4. Step outside of your comfort zone. If you're a liberal Democrat, don't sit blindly in your bubble of New York Times and MSNBC. Branch out. Read the Journal. The same goes for conservatives. Understand the argument from the other side of the aisle. Don't become so entrenched in your ideology that you keep yourself from being intellectually honest.
5.Include at least one foreign news outlet. The world's perspective on American current events can be decidedly different than what you'll read or see in the US. I think it's important to be aware of what's being said abroad. (I cruise the BBC and Al-Jazeera frequently.)
6. Understand what's happening locally. It's easy to use the national news, especially politics, to generate conversation, buzz and controversy. A lot of the ideas that people like to debate don't really affect our day to day lives. Start reading up on what's happening at the local level in your community. Who's running for the school board? What is your city spending it's money on? Those are things that matter. Balance your news with national and local.
7. Pay attention to the Opinion pages. Every now and then, certain people will write in an Op-Ed column for a newspaper that is well-worth the read. Nobel Laureates, foreign heads of state, Presidential candidates have all been known to offer up their expertise and opinions on a wide range of issues in editorials.
8. Don't process the news in a bubble. It's easy to read the news and immediately start developing your own opinions, but its important to dialogue about the issues with others - particularly those that don't think the same as you. Don't be afraid of those conversations. The sharpen our intellect, deepen our convictions and broaden our perspectives.
9. Understand that there is bias in the news an outlet chooses to give you. In other words, if the New York Times is running a story that the Wall Street Journal has chosen not to highlight, there's probably a reason behind both of those choices. Be mindful of the information you're being fed, and where it's coming from.
10. (This is entirely my own biased opinion): After you have read, watched and listened to the news of the day, take some time in the evening to watch The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. While I tend to resonate with a lot of what Stewart says, he does offer some poignant and hilarious commentary on the day's news. And out of all the cable news shows, The Daily Show does the absolute best job at keeping politicians honest & pointing out inconsistencies. But remember - it's all comedy. :)