News – it’s something that doesn’t concern us growing up and suddenly find ourselves following on a daily basis once adulthood hits. You must have caught yourself cocking your head towards the TV or the radio as soon as that old, faithful news jingle comes on. We instantly pay attention. We want to ask…
Why follow the news?
It’s a simple equation. News equals information. We live in the information age, so it makes sense to prioritize content consumption above any other activity we do.
Given how digitalization has all but penetrated every aspect of our lives, staying on top of the news is a must. Even outside the major political dimension of news, professionals of all kinds are following the industry news to retain their competitiveness.
Importance of news
Partaking in news is one of the few communal activities we engage in during an unprecedented era of population density, which ultimately leads to erosion of the community bonds. We might not have much in common with people outside of our closest friend circles, but we can easily find a through-line in discussions of major news stories.
To that end, there are three levels of news that exist and should be paid attention to.
Local: We’re not starting with local news, because they’re at the lowest level – but mostly because local news headlines tend to be sidelined for the more important-sounding national and international news. However, local news is the glue that holds communities together.
Local news is a stepping stone towards change considering how small news stories can rally up the community to preserve landmarks, demand better services, and stand behind a social cause that in the end benefit everyone. In a world that’s global, it’s easy to forget about what’s happening in your own backyard.
National: National news creates culture and creates societies. What happens on a national political level has a strong impact on how the nation reacts together. Take for instance the country-wide protests in Poland over abortion bans or the massive farmer protests happening in India at the moment.
For countries as big as India, the USA, Canada, China, and Russia – sprawling entities that exist in multiple time zones and connect regions that otherwise have nothing in common, national news is essential to providing much-needed communication. We’re going back to the glue analogy.
International: Prior to globalization, there wasn’t much need to learn about what’s happening around the world – possibly apart from one’s closest neighbors and even that had to do with immediate economic rationale.
Today, sometimes the most important news is international news from how the world reacted and handled the COVID-19 pandemic to the economic repercussions surrounding the UK’s exit from the EU, which came into effect in 2021. With how interconnected the world has become, even the most unrelated faraway event can create a ripple effect on the other side of the globe.
How to choose the right news sources?
Fake news might have become a highly politicized phrase since the 2016 US presidential election, but it aptly describes a real phenomenon that’s always plagued journalism. Tabloids have been reporting on unsubstantiated rumors and sensationalist headlines long before the Internet gave us the means to spread false information easier than ever before.
Even good-humored satirical reporting has been taken at face value, which further muddles waters, so what’s there to say about news items designed to look indistinguishable from actual news. The recent trend of individual stories going viral and blowing up further raises the risk of creating false narratives.
That’s why now more than ever whom you choose to listen to matters the most.
Alternative ways to consume news
We’re surrounded by news whether we turn on the TV, tune in on a radio station, or head over to Twitter. Most digital landscapes are porous and news items have flooded through the cracks. But as with everything, there are definite drawbacks to experience news this way.
We touched upon the issue regarding trustworthiness, but there are also issues that stem from pure news fatigue (you’re not in control over how you receive news) and news delivery (clickbait titles and a bit of fear-mongering from traditional media, especially on TV).
So it’s time to look into some readily available alternatives.
RSS feed reader: RSS feed readers make for a natural news hub. Think about how Google News or Yahoo! News aggregates news from different sources based on topics and the latest headlines. RSS does the same and you’re the one who chooses what content you receive. Tightening one’s focus to just select news sources greatly improves your level of being informed without actually spending more time on the Internet.
The great thing about RSS is that you can add or remove subscriptions easily. If you spend your time on a browser, then having an account for a reader with a browser extension is the best way to go about it. Inoreader is a natural choice.
Blogs: Traditional media has its downsides and can be rather impartial or concerned with getting out new headlines at increasing speed rather than deepening their focus. Journalists have been pushing to alternative digital spaces to showcase their voices and cultivate their audiences.
If you prefer long-form journalism and articles with more commentary from the author, then this is where you should direct your attention. Journalist personal blogs are everywhere to be found, and others prefer to seek out their luck on bigger platforms like Substack and Medium.
News databases: News databases are a big step above newspapers and news services, which supply traditional news media with breaking news. They are a way to experience news in an archival way. Once the dust of novelty sets in and what’s better – these databases go way back in time. Sometimes it’s not just important to stay on top with what’s happening today as a look back in time can be quite sobering in a lot of respect. Many databases are available free online.