Some News in Your Tech

I still remember my Granddad sitting at the kitchen table with his oatmeal, coffee, and newspaper. When we were visiting I’d snag the “funnies” and sit with my bowl of cereal and my juice and read with him. I’m old enough to be nostalgic but not quite old enough to still “take the paper”[1].

The Change

News. It’s such a crucial part of how we form opinions. How we understand the world around us. How we interact with people we meet. And few things have changed more over the last three decades.

From newspapers to broadcast news, from 24/7 cable news to a reporter with an iPhone and a Twitter account. News isn’t just getting faster, we’re getting more of it.

The Feed

The news keeps coming these days. Go to Google News and just watch the stories stream in. Go watch your Facebook stream[2] and count the news stories that scroll by. Click a trending topic in Twitter and see if you can read fast enough to keep up. And it keeps growing.

There are myriad places to read and watch and listen to news on the internet. New sites launch all the time. Old sources shut down. Reporters change jobs like most of us change clothes.

The Controls

We need to take control of our news intake. If we just consume what comes in over Facebook or the big news organizations, we won’t learn or understand on our own. We’ll depend on others’ understanding of the world for our news.

You should be intentional about what you read and hear. Think about who you’re going to listen to. Know what they believe and what they stand for. Find sources that challenge your thinking, sources that encourage you to learn more.

So how do we cope? How do we filter the feed? How do we find sources that we trust and understand? Ones that will do their best to inform us on the import things? It’s a lot more complicated than subscribing to your local paper. It takes a little effort.

The Trusted Collection

I’m willing to bet you have at least one news source you trust already. If that’s so, then go to that sources Twitter feed and find out who they retweet. You’ll gather a collection of news sources quickly.

Remember, news isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it proposition anymore. There are always great new sources cropping up. Old sources may decline. Keep up with your sources.

Don’t be afraid to cut one that isn’t meeting your needs anymore. Or better, shoot them an email and tell them how they’re not meeting your needs. If you like them, help them improve. Sources want to meet the needs of their readers. Let them know how they can do that.

The point is, news isn’t a one way street anymore. It’s a relationship. Corral the sources that work best for you. Cull the herd. Help your sources stay strong.

My Corral

My solution has been to use a couple of different types of feed readers[3]. For blogs and articles, I use Feedly. Feedly lets me organize my different feeds into categories. It helps me stay on top of the things I care about the most.

The second reader I use is a podcast app on my phone[4]. Podcasts are a great way to keep up with news. You can listen while you work on other things like clean the house, etc. I use Beyond Pod on my Android, but there are other great options[5]. Find one that works well for you.

One final item: Google News can be a great way to keep up with stories. You can set alerts on various keywords and terms. You can set the frequency for various types of stories showing up. If you want a quick overview of what interests others, the “Top Stories” is quite useful. Spend a little time understanding the features Google News offers. It may have a place in your news reading.

Recap

News is hard. It can be overwhelming at times. There’s a huge number of topics and a whole lot of world to cover. But if we’re willing to do a little work to curate our intake, we can improve the quality of the news we read. We can learn to better understand the world we live in.

It’s important to find sources that encourage us to think. Sources that make us want to learn and understand. Ones that challenge what we believe, and in so doing, help us develop our world view.

What methods do you use to keep up with the news? What are your favorite news sources? Why?


  1. My grandmother “took the paper” till a few years ago when she moved out of her home. She get’s most of her news from the TV now.  ↩

  2. Top right of the screen. I didn’t know what that was for a while.  ↩

  3. Feed readers scan RSS feeds for updates and collect the resulting updates in a single location for you.  ↩

  4. Podcasts are episodic video or audio recordings updated through RSS feeds. I have several here.  ↩

  5. This article from lifehacker has a list of some excellent options. Give Overcast.fm some thought if you’re on iOS. I like it a lot.  ↩

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