Poll: Knowing World Events

When I was in grad school, Noam Chomsky came to speak to our class. We read some background information on him to prepare for his visit, and I learned that he and his wife spent every morning reading an impressive number of newspapers, journals, and magazines from all over the world (because, of course, if you’re Noam Chomsky, you can read just about every language). They felt it was their duty to know what was going on, to see emerging crises in the world.  They didn’t stick to the big name news outlets. They sought out a comprehensive and continual understanding of current events and felt that this was their obligation as world citizens.

I’m no Noam Chomsky, but I do feel like it’s my duty to know what’s going on in the world. The question is how to do it.  I know I need to be better at it.  Right now, my media is limited to NPR and um, what my friends post on Facebook.

This week’s poll is two-fold. What are your primary sources of news? And, how much time do you devote to staying on top of things?  Please list your favorite and trusted news organizations in the comments section.


EmilyCC works for a national non-profit and lives in Phoenix, Arizona with her spouse and three children. She is a former editor of Exponent II and a founding blogger at The Exponent.

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10 Responses

  1. amelia says:

    I hate cable news and won’t watch it unless I’m in a hotel and don’t have easy radio access. Mostly I listen to various public radio shows (both NPR and other, including PRI and various locally produced shows) to get my daily news. I also read various websites (yahoo for headlines; slate for commentary; the New York Times and the Washington Post for newspaper coverage). And I love The Daily Show, which is a genuine news source but a funny one. When I fly, I frequently buy The Economist, The New Yorker, Harper’s, etc., to read in the air. And when I read books, more often than not it’s non-fiction about current events and cultural or social commentary.

    I’m with you in believing we have an obligation to stay informed about our world.

  2. spunky says:

    I worked for a major syndicated media company for a short time; in working there, I developed a frank distrust of media in general. Even newspapers are politically motivated for financial purposes, based on content that advertisers will or will not support. So- a basic and easy example is beauty magazines that recommend facial cleansers; better recommendations will always go to the brands that have advertising contracts with the magazine, whereas other brands that do not advertise in the mag will often not even be mentioned, or if they are, sometimes in a negative way. The same happens for expose’ news stories in regard to illegal drugs, based on the investments of the advertisers. For example, if company X has shares in a manufacturing business in Columbia, then an article exposing a Columbian drug ring may be toned down, omitted or written with an eye to expose the benefits of other investments (such as good ol’ company X), with that as an important salvation based-focus in the “war on drugs”.

    With that in mind, the media are in competition for advertisers, so will fight to ensure they have all of the top stories covered, so most will cover a story, the key is to understand that the emphasis in the coverage may be tainted.

  3. Miri says:

    I feel that way too. Actually, it gets out of control sometimes–I used to watch the morning news with the remote in my hand, switching back and forth constantly between CBS, NBC, ABC, and FOX–because I was obsessed with getting my news from a variety of sources. (I always listen to NPR in the car; in fact, it’s the only thing on the radio I can listen to. I’m a grouch about radio music.) I’m with Amelia now, though, I hate cable news. My sources are pretty much exclusively online and radio, though I won’t pretend I try very hard anymore to get the conservative side of things… The Daily Show is also a favorite. I’m in love with Jon Stewart (and Stephen Colbert on the side).

    • Whitney says:

      Me too, Miri. For me it’s all about NPR, Jon Stewart, and the Colbert Report. I get plenty of the conservative side from fb friends.

  4. EM says:

    I used to be an avid watcher and reader of news, but not so much anymore. I found it too upsetting and depressing. Now I sometimes watch shorten versions of news on various podcasts, and even then I get annoyed, particularly in US news with their insane coverage of the Republican nominations – ugh – can’t stand watching grown men arguing and tearing each other down. I’ve found watching Aljezeera(sp) news much more informative, and even then I have my doubts. Canadian news is not much better, but better than watching US news.

  5. Kelly Ann says:

    I am a bit of a news junkie. I check the headlines of SFgate and BBC nearly every day. I check the headlines of CNN and Deseret News (the latter mostly for kicks) a couple times a week. This does not mean I read – I truly skim. But then when something interests me, I’ll often read multiple articles. As consequence, I usually can tell you the major news stories – as seeing similar headlines on multiple sites in one liners concretes them … Twitter has actually been fabulous. In addition to the news sources above, I follow Slate, Salon, NPR, the NYtimes, etc. This often catches really intriguing articles. Again I skim and read when interested. And with Slate in particular, if there is something interesting, I usually go and see what else I’ve missed. So I can spend anywhere from a few minutes a day to half an hour or an hour. However, I hardly go over that. I do occasionally listen to NPR on the radio to and from work but have found that I have grown to like the silence. My news consumption is truly by internet although I often do glance at the newspaper in the lunch room. Since I usually know the headlines, its the odd sections like the obituaries that will catch my attention from time to time.

  6. CatherineWO says:

    I too confess to being a news junkie. Before the internet, I worked in a bookstore for many years where I had daily access to the NYTimes, Seattle Times and the Washington Post, all of which I would scan through on a regular basis. I love the internet mostly for the great access to world-wide news, my regular sites being the Washington Post, CNN, Huffington Post and the Salt Lake Tribune (for grins). I also listen to NPR and PRI every morning, sometimes in the early evening and always in the car. I especially love the in-depth stories that put faces on the people behind the headlines. Like Amelia, I will pick up news magazine when I’m traveling or if I see something interesting on a cover at the newsstand.
    I want to say something too about reading local news. Growing up in Salt Lake City, my family subscribed to both the Deseret News and the Tribune (my mother thought it was important to get more than one side of the story, and the Trib was better for national news). From an early age, I read both papers intensely, as did my parents, and we had wonderful family discussions about both local and national news and the different ways the news was presented. Every place I have lived since then (from Mississippi to Montana and several places in between), I have started my day with a reading of the local news. Local papers are a dying breed but an important pulse in a community. As important as it is to have a global awareness, it’s at the local level that we have the most impact. On either level, we can’t precipitate change if we don’t know what is going on and who the key players are.

  7. charlene says:

    Ugh, cable news. We don’t have a working TV in our house, which prompts my parents to wonder how we can possibly be well-informed. Of course my dad uses his cable to watch Jim Kramer, and I don’t know how much money he’s lost that way…

    My dad did give me the WSJ on Kindle for a present last year, so I read that most days. It’s sometimes a bit hilariously one-percenter, but it’s a good counterpoint to NYT, which I also read, rather more rarely because I don’t have a Kindle subscription and reading news articles on the computer annoys me. I also have a long RSS feed full of random news items that I look at with my iPod reader throughout the day… in particular, I find Megan McArdle’s Atlantic blog a fairly good summary/analysis of some of the economic events that are going on.

    I wish I had a better way of getting local news, but the newspaper here is so bad that it’s sort of ludicrous.

  8. larryco_ says:

    I mostly trust sources like PBS’s Frontline and McNeil Lehrer to give me accurate and (relatively) unbiased information on current events. No pundits need apply, thank you. And I like my news without the lastest Kardasian update whenever possible.

  9. MJK says:

    Also an NPR fan here, though it makes me feel old that I love NPR because growing up it was such a “boring adult” thing. As to papers, I usually glance at my local paper at least for a few minutes and then I’ve developed a love for the Chicago Tribune.
    And because I feel it’s relevant to this discussion, I’m 30.

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