Ten Things: What to Read and Where to Look for the Best News

Because I am currently interning at Religion & Politics, an online news journal and a project of the John C. Danforth Center on Religion & Politics at Washington University in St. Louis, I read a lot of news every day. As in, it’s my job to read the news for several hours (see the results of all that hard work here). I’ve always been interested in journalism; I read the Chicago Tribune, and then later the The Wall Street Journal, every morning in high school. Now, because of blogs, news sites have the incentive to keep online content (mostly) free. If content isn’t free, I sign up for a free trial (and remember to cancel in time) or use some of these tricks to get my news without paying. So, I don’t even need to read the paper anymore to get all my news!

Lately, though this is always true, I’ve come across some pretty embarrassing gaffes on Facebook, where people seem to genuinely believe satirical news (as in, anyone who posted the “George Zimmerman Arrested While Visiting Ferguson” article from National Report, or as they like to call themselves, “America’s #1 Independent News Source.” Independent, indeed.). I realized, though my generation has always been told, “Don’t believe everything you read on the internet,” some people aren’t sure where to look for good news. Fortunately, it is literally my job to find good, relevant, and well-researched pieces from a variety of trustworthy sources.

Where to Look

I’d like to pass on some of my newfound news knowledge to you. Here are the top 10 news sites to look at to get the best and most accurate news every day. Some of them seem very obvious, but I’ve found that having an aggregated list (I keep a document on my browser) of news sites helps me click through and keep current faster and more efficiently.

  1. The New York Times. Obvious, but a lot of people will turn to local papers first. That’s fine, but The NYT has some of the best international and domestic hard news out there.
  2. The Washington Post. Another obvious source, but perhaps less well-known than The NYT. Fun fact: after reading up on Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein’s amazing journalism, which exposed the Watergate scandal and showed that journalists really can stick to their guns when it comes to keeping sources confidential, I’ve always had a tiny dream of working at The WP.
  3. The Wall Street Journal. More business and tech oriented than the others, but always an interesting read.
  4. The New Yorker. Excellent long-form journalism. Reasonable op-eds.
  5. The Atlantic. Like The New Yorker, it includes mostly long-form, literary, and high-brow works. I’ve been reading The Atlantic since high school at an old English teacher’s request, and it’s always kept me well-informed and entertained.
  6. Slate. Opinionated, interesting pieces that always attack hot news. Read this if you want a quick (though biased) rundown of current events and pop culture. Find your favorite writers and columns so that you know you can trust the opinions you’ll inevitably steal.
  7. The Daily Beast. I really like The DB for two reasons: one, their handy and fun “cheat sheet” for a quick scoop on the day’s top stories, and two, for their witty writers.
  8. News from the Associated Press. Extremely current hard news. Not set up like a traditional news site, but it’s an excellent place to go for completely up-to-date information on news stories you (and the rest of the world) have been following.
  9. The Huffington Post. Their homepage looks like a scam, but they cover a wide variety of topics. So, you can get your frou-frou news about the “Worst Dressed at The Emmys” alongside the hard stuff.
  10. NPR. Though nobody ever really thinks of National Public Radio outside of their cars, NPR’s website offers interesting and nontraditional news coverage. It’s not necessarily the most up-to-date, but they always cover topics of interest in a way that other sites don’t. Plus, you can listen to interviews and talks while you do work!

I would also suggest signing up for a free newsletter email service such as theSkimm. It takes less than five minutes to read, and will give you a quick, digestible bite of news about important events (but be wary: five minutes of news ain’t enough to really understand a single story, let alone the most important story in a single country. So, newsletters are a good place to start, but I wouldn’t use them as the be-all, end-all. And I especially would not use them as support in a “political discussion,” otherwise known as an argument.).

Look out soon for regular posts of top articles to read for the week, as well as a list of “news” sites NOT to visit.

2 thoughts on “Ten Things: What to Read and Where to Look for the Best News

  1. Do you form your opinions before you read the opinions of others? I find people tend to read opinions that support what they already believe and never really do much thinking of their own. I also find that most opinions expressed in the media are based on half-truths that support the ideology of whoever bought them off.

    • Because I have the time and the resources, I try to read as much hard, straight-forward, unbiased news as possible. However, I do seek out opinion pieces when i want a fuller understanding of a topic. For stories that I’m less knowledgable about, I’ll ask friends or family whom I know follow these stories or have studied subjects related to these stories for the authors, bloggers, and sites they read.

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