A suggestion.

If…

  • You know more about Anthony Weiner’s wiener than you know about the Bradlety Manning trial.
  • You know more about the new “royal baby” than you do about the revelations of massive NSA domestic surveillance.
  • You know more about juror B37 than you do about the campaign of threats being employed to bring Edward Snowden back to the U.S.

…then you really ought to consider finding a different source for your news.

5 thoughts on “A suggestion.

  1. whistle

    Amen!

    I’ve noticed something lately that really irritates me – people complaining about how superficial “the news” is but doing nothing to get news from non-mainstream sources. Any recommendations for how to respond to these complaints in a way that might actually encourage someone to branch out with their news sources? Or are they just complaining because they think they should, but really they don’t care about anything beneath the surface? (Whenever I mention online sources or blogs, I get a dismissive eye roll…)

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  2. Dave Krueger Post author

    The biggest problem in the U.S. is that the public tends to rely very heavily on TV news outlets. This includes cable news (Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC) as well as broadcast network news (ABC, CBS, NBC). People who supplement their news intake with other sources (even blogs) are almost certain to be more aware of what’s happening in the world. Establishment TV news seems to be designed for those who rely totally on them for news. Since that probably accounts for the majority of the population, that makes them incredibly powerful. They report the same news and almost always frame it in the same context even if they provide difference biases. The moment you get away from news outlets that don’t have a TV based division, you will expose yourself to more factual reporting and less editorializing. TV news tells you, not only what they want you to know, but how you’re supposed to feel about it.

    If you (speaking in the collective sense) like news outlets that cover a broad rage of stories, I recommend regular visits to English speaking foreign news outlets like Spiegel, Guardian, RT, BBC, Al Jazeera, etc. These are also mainstream news sources, but they are not quite as beholden to U.S. interests. Some blogs, like Reason.com, cover a fairly wide range of topics and link directly to mainstream news stories. Even subject oriented blogs like The Agitator (at least the old version) are great for eliminating the need to weed through tons of news to get to the to topics of interest to you.

    I watch for developments on specific topics using Google where you can put in search terms. limit the results to “news”, and then narrow the search to articles posted in the last 24 hours or even the last hour.

    The most striking aspect of TV news, especially cable news, is their capacity to focus on a single sensational story to the exclusion of almost all other news. When they lack facts, they substitute speculation. It’s almost as if their mission is to keep you ignorant. The internet makes it easy to access so many different news sources that there is no excuse for ignorance anymore. You can browse a few on-line news outlets and get a better picture of current world events in fifteen minutes than you can from watching three hours of CNN prime time news.

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  3. whistle

    I especially agree with your last paragraph. I spend fairly little time reading ‘the news’ on a daily basis, but I know more about more current events than anyone I know who gets their news from cable. My parents, for example, have fox news on all. the. time. But I doubt they know the name Bradley Manning.

    Anyway, what I keep running into is people who *say* they want more out of the news but scoff at any mention of ‘alternative’ news sources. Is there anyway to convince someone with this mindset that it’s worth it to read, e.g. reason or RT or whatever and to turn off the cable?

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  4. Dave Krueger Post author

    First, with regard to RT, I was pretty skeptical at first that they would be a reliable news source. As a result, whenever I saw something on RT that interested me, I would go looking for a more mainstream source. What I eventually found out was that RT was essentially reporting the facts accurately, but it was picking stories that the establishment American media was often downplaying. RT is not U.S. government friendly and they have routinely given voice to critics of U.S. policies (Radley Balko for one).

    News outlets like RT, Guardian, and Spiegel are just as meticulous with their facts as any mainstream American based news outlet, but they often present the news from a more international perspective, giving it a more critical flavor. When I went to San Francisco in 2011, the hotel has an RT channel on the TV line-up. I wish it was available everywhere. If you’re interested in world news, you should definitely be looking at foreign news outlets. If you want to know what the Germans are saying about Snowden’s revelations about German collaboration with the NSA, go to Speigel.

    The best alternative news sources actually link to mainstream media stories. Most people have grown up trusting sources like The New York Times, CNN, and Washington Post. If it weren’t for links to mainstream sources, blogging sites wouldn’t be nearly as popular. But, what makes blogging sites to attractive is that they organize news in a way that makes it easier to digest. A lot of blogs are topical and most blogs supply multiple references. Most blogs draw on print or web-based journalism rather than TV news, so you’re spared all the meaningless speculative chit-chat between anchors and their paid consultants. If you’re interested in collecting facts and assessing them yourself, then the best sources are going to be concise, fact-based, web based media that specializes in topics you’re interested in or at least makes it easy to find what you’re interested in.

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  5. Dave Krueger Post author

    Basically, I don’t think people are really likely to go looking for alternative news sources until they get fed up with what they’re seeing on TV.

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