We’ve been surrounded by news since our birth. I’m sure we all have childhood family memories of being forced to watch the evening news with our parents or grandparents.
Once what was on TV and radio has poured out into most online spaces. You’re likely to see news headlines and whole articles on meme-sharing sites like Imgur. So it doesn’t seem like we need to pay attention to the news, because we’re surrounded by them.
But that’s all situational. Have you made attempts to follow the news intentionally? Now that there’s choices to be made, it becomes a little bit daunting. Where do you start? What do you follow?
And it’s important to stay well informed on what’s happening in the world. You’re missing quite a lot by not engaging with news in a proactive way.
Why is staying up-to-date with news and current events important?
Humans are social creatures. We share what matters to us to our closest people to strengthen our bonds as well as survive by transferring vital information. Talking about news is participating in a tradition as old as civilization. It’s communal. It’s social. It’s community building and we have a few rituals left that unites us given the highly isolationist and segmented society has come. It’s one way to fulfill this need.
Another is quite practical. Industry news keeps our professional trajectory in check by furthering our education on practical matters, tools and skills we need to develop. Political news helps us then make decisions on who to vote for, how to vote and how else to engage in political life on a local or national level. Consumer news allows us to be more conscious and responsible with what we purchase and what brands should be avoided based on social and environmental issues.
5 simple ways to keep up with the important information
It’s one thing to passive consume news and hear what’s happening in passing or from friends, but quite another when you’re actively trying to take control over your news consumption.
Let’s give you a sense of direction.
Subscribe to traditional news sources
The easiest and widest spread way to consume news is to turn to the current top news sources in your location. Traditional news sources might be losing steam, but are still relevant and have a lot of digital overlaps.
Take CNN, for example. It’s a large news network with news dispatches as well as specific shows that bring a point of view to the day’s news. You can consume news from their site, TV, social media and their app. It’s this easy availability in multiple formats and foreground establishment in our cultural landscape that make it a prime candidate to receive news on every topic.
Broadcast news is here to stay in several ways. Though another way to consume news as soon as they’re published and receive only the facts is through press services like the Associated Press and Reuters.
Use RSS feed reader
RSS feed readers solve the issue of spreading your time and attention thin across multiple sources online. You don’t need to keep a close eye on Twitter, apps, hashtags and news sites individually, when RSS feed readers consolidate all your reading into one master feed. The added bonus is the chronological order of articles being published, so you can follow developing stories as they unfold in real time.
Curation lies at the heart of all RSS feed readers and the current generation does particularly well at equipping you for the task. Inoreader offers a browser extension with expanded features that not only allows you to subscribe to news feeds without leaving the site, but also keeps track of all your other subscriptions. There’s also the matter of discovery, which Inoreader has perfected from the suggestion of topics to popular feeds to collections.
Listen to podcasts
Podcasts have risen in popularity in the past decade in lieu of radio shows, mainly because listeners are in charge of when and how they experience them. Stuck in traffic? Waiting in line? Doing the worst of household chores? You can be productive and stay on top of important news.
You have a selection of daily digest podcasts (The Economist comes to mind) and more targeted shows. NPR is particularly adept at this with Fresh Air and Planet Money being top picks in their respective subject matter.
However, sometimes context is necessary. Getting the headlines is only a part of the equation, but without prior knowledge on a given situation can there be understanding? That’s why finding the right person to give you an ‘in’ so to speak is important. Ezra Klein is particularly good at digging deep into important topics that give context.
Follow influencers and bloggers
Following a particular point of view is also popular. With the proliferation of social media and the firm establishment of individuals as brands, singular journalists have risen as loud voices and have been quite successful in detaching themselves from the grind of traditional media. They’ve chosen the independent route of creating a following on platforms like Medium and growing newsletter subscriptions through Substack, which has increasingly been gaining traction since its recent debut as a startup.
Each journalist has their specific interests and makes for an excellent resource for following specific stories in time and gaining better understanding on a given topic. In effect, they function as guides in what can frankly be an overwhelming world of news.
Find unbiased source of news
Points of view have their purpose, but you have to remember they carry their own biases and it’s important to counter a single person’s opinion with a dispassionate (as much as such a thing can exist) news source. We mentioned press services, which deliver the bare facts, but there are other news sources that are generally considered trustworthy and immune to the type of emotional style of reporting (The Guardian has been accused of this).
The BBC is generally a safe, solid choice.