How to I begin to understand what is going on in the world?
January 31, 2012 8:22 PM   Subscribe

How to I begin to understand what is going on in the world?

I consider myself to be reasonably intelligent, but the path that I've chosen in my life has not forced me to become informed on politics or really news of any sort. Unfortunately, because of this and my lack of motivation to educate myself, I know very little about what is going on in the world. I often tell myself I am going to dedicate time to reading the news everyday, but then I pick up the New York Times and it is literally like trying to read a foreign language. I get discouraged and give up for a couple of weeks. I just don't have enough background information to have any idea what I'm reading most of the time.

How can I get more informed? Where is a good place to start? How can I ease into becoming more educated about current events and politics and art and culture and everything else.

A few things:

1) As interested as I am to learn, I lack patience, so it is necessary to have stories that combine hard facts with skilled (if possible somewhat creative) writing to keep me stimulated.

3) I tend to find listening to the radio, specifically NPR, easy, informative and interesting, however not exactly practical for me on an everyday basis.

3) I prefer reading paper rather than a computer screen. While I am not opposed to news sites, newspapers or magazines would be preferable.

4) If this is at all relevant, I am 24 and live in New York City.

Thanks for your help!
posted by to Education (42 answers total) 41 users marked this as a favorite
the economist is a good place to start.
posted by KeSetAffinityThread at 8:30 PM on January 31, 2012 [2 favorites]

The Economist magazine is a pretty good at taking at least one step back from the day to day churn of daily papers. That said, it's written by an anonymous horde of posh Oxbridge types with a "classically liberal" ideology to push - but the upshot is that they are wholly flamboyant about this.

Every time I read a history book, more of the news makes sense to me. I realize that's kind of an unhelpful short-term answer, but it's all I've ever found works. Only so much can be gleaned from the play by play of newspapers and Wikipedia entries.
posted by phrontist at 8:35 PM on January 31, 2012 [7 favorites]

Phrontist has it. You need at least a tenuous understanding of the history of Europe and of the history of the United States to begin to make sense of most modern geopolitical events; ideally, you can layer on Asian, African, and other histories as you become more aware of the things which might and do interest you.
posted by ellF at 8:37 PM on January 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

NPR is very heavily podcast, if your issue with the practicality is based on their schedule.
posted by Gilbert at 8:39 PM on January 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

3) I tend to find listening to the radio, specifically NPR, easy, informative and interesting, however not exactly practical for me on an everyday basis.

NPR podcasts many of its shows. If you have an MP3 player, you could download and listen to them whenever you want.

I personally really like Planet Money, which has given me a reaonable understanding of various facets of the global financial system. They are good at making complex issues simple and relatable.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 8:40 PM on January 31, 2012

How can I get more informed?

Read a couple newspapers every day.

Where is a good place to start?

The "World" sections of the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal. BBC News World, The Economist, and Al Jazeera English are also fantastic sources.
posted by Hermanos at 8:53 PM on January 31, 2012 for making sense of the middle east. i can't stress it enough.
posted by cupcake1337 at 9:12 PM on January 31, 2012

Suggestions above are good.

Another: Subscribe to The Week magazine. It's a newsmagazine that excerpts coverage from lots of other sources, to give a weekly round-up of current events. It's once a week, so it's not overwhelming, and the articles are typically quite short. Once you spend a few weeks reading it you'll start to see the same names/issues coming up repeatedly. It also has a fair dose of trivial stuff. It's a painless way to get a cocktail-party level of familiarity with a wide range of current events.

You can probably preview a lot of these magazines at newsstands or at a library, too.
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:15 PM on January 31, 2012 [3 favorites]

Start with the NYT, the Economist, some BBC and al Jazeera.
posted by Brian Puccio at 9:17 PM on January 31, 2012

If you do subscribe to The. Week, be aware that part of its journalistic mission is to imbue news with a slight conservative spin.
posted by ocherdraco at 10:03 PM on January 31, 2012

ocherdraco, can you say more? I definitely can see this being true, but hadn't thought about it in those terms. Do you mean that's explicitly part of its mission?
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:14 PM on January 31, 2012

It's been years since I've seen a copy, but if it hasn't changed, The World & I would be another good bet. Has the advantage of being targeted at students.

Also consider the Foreign Policy Association's Great Decisions discussion programs.
posted by woodman at 10:21 PM on January 31, 2012

A few ideas:

- If you are the type, satire and comedy can help the information go down. The Daily Show, of course, but also try The Bugle, a weekly 45-minute satire podcast featuring John Oliver of the aforementioned Daily Show. It's more comedy than current events, but it does touch on the main stories of the week and may help provide some perspective or an entry point.
- Nthing Planet Money. It's not always great, but it's pretty reliably good.
- In addition to NPR, the BBC has a variety of podcasts. I don't listen to them much these days, but the quality is always high, and they offer a variety of lengths and frequencies.
- In general, the BBC provides more concise coverage of the US than American media do, so you get a decent picture of what's happening without the navel-gazing or insider language used by local media; obviously, the reverse is true of UK stories.
- and both collect excellent long-form journalism that tends to have a story element to it. Of course, a lot of it is not necessarily hard news (and some of it is from older stories).
- One thing that might work is to pick one current story that seems interesting, and start with that. Don't try to learn about all of the news at once, but pick a single topic, and focus on it. Once you've got a handle, move sideways into other news stories that cover similar issues.

So, for example start with the Syrian uprisings, where the citizens have been protesting for President (dictator) Assad to step down and have democratic elections, which has led to the government staging a violent crackdown on its' citizens. BBC has a good overview, and here's a first-person article from Foreign Policy about a visit to the country. From there, you can start following other Arab Spring countries, like Libya and Egypt.

Or, you could look at the Euro debt crisis, where some of the countries in the common market, Greece especially, are not able to repay their debts, which could cause global financial instability. Planet Money has about a dozen great podcasts on this topic going back a couple of years, and Michael Lewis wrote a good article on Greece a year and a bit ago. From there, you could move on to other economic stories.

I would recommend against spending too much time worrying about the Republican presidential nomination race. Because it's an ongoing contest with a new poll or speech or debate or vote every day, it gets a lot of coverage, but it's only the first stage in the election -- once the candidate is picked, the previous six or eight months of news coverage is basically trivia. It's something that is better followed from a global news source, like BBC or Al-Jazeera, rather than from a dozen reporters who have literally nothing to do but talk about it all day.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 10:31 PM on January 31, 2012 [3 favorites]

Alas, I'm having trouble finding my source for that assertion while on my phone. My boyfriend subscribed briefly, and when we noticed an unusual number of things in the magazine from organizations or publications he recognized as conservative, we did some research and found material which said that.
posted by ocherdraco at 10:37 PM on January 31, 2012

Phrontist has it. You need at least a tenuous understanding of the history of Europe and of the history of the United States to begin to make sense of most modern geopolitical events; ideally, you can layer on Asian, African, and other histories as you become more aware of the things which might and do interest you.
Yeah, I agree. If you read a quality newspaper every day, you will over the years gain a pretty good understanding of the world, not from an individual article but rather from seeing the connections of how everything fits together. So if the newspaper says politician X says Y, if you know who that is you can tell whether or not he's telling the truth or whether he's always spouting nonsense.

But the whole point of history is that people do that for you, then they write about what they figured out over a longer period of time. Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq's Green Zone is a well regarded book about the Iraq war, for example, and 13 bankers is a well regarded book about the wallstreet situation.
posted by delmoi at 10:51 PM on January 31, 2012

I subscribe to the Guardian Weekly. It's a magazine printed on newspaper that is "the Guardian's weekly take on the world, using the extensive resources of the Guardian's news gathering organisation, with additional material from the Observer, Le Monde and Washington Post". You can get just digital, or hard copy with access to the digital.

It has a very international focus, though with a small "UK news"section (It feels like it's written for british expats stuck in the jungles of papua new guinea who only get the mail once a week, but want to keep up with world events in the most efficient way) Being only weekly, seems to ignore much of the day to day hype/drama, instead having a more long term view. I would assume it would be relatively left compared to most US media.

Nthing that having a good grasp of history can help gain perspective of current events.
posted by kjs4 at 11:28 PM on January 31, 2012 [2 favorites]

One thing to keep in mind on your quest to figure out how the world works, is that nobody seems to really know how the world works. My own opinion is that the world is probably too complicated and interconnected for any one person to truly understand everything that needs understanding.

Even experts in their particular fields get blind sided all the time because they can only give so much attention and focus to any one thing. So, keep in mind while you inform yourself that most facts about how something works, economically or politically, are really just marginally tested (if testable at all) theories that are only valid in a certain range of circumstances.

It's dangerous to think you've got it all figured out.

By way of example... I have a cousin who was making tons of money flipping houses before the crash. He thought he had it all figured out. (The economics of the housing market) He had fully invested mentally in his model of how the world worked. The crash wiped out a lot of his gains and he sort of freaked out and believes it was some global conspiracy. But really, he never understood it, and neither did anyone else.

If you read a quality newspaper every day, you will over the years gain a pretty good understanding of the world, not from an individual article but rather from seeing the connections of how everything fits together.

I would rephrase that as "If you read a quality newspaper every day, you will over the years gain a good understanding of that particular newspapers editorial biases and opinion of how some consensus of people think the world works."

I don't mean to downplay that too much, that's a useful understanding to have.. but I would caution you against ever believing it to be 'Truth' with a capital T.

All that said, I think if you try to understand people instead of "the world" you'll get a better picture of how things really work. Talking to people from varied backgrounds, traveling the world yourself and seeing how different people act and think for yourself can go a long way to giving you a good understanding of how the world works. You live in New York, so you've got a leg up on most people just because of the wildly heterogeneous international community at your doorstep.

TLDR; Don't believe anything you read. Study human behavior through observation and listening to people from widely varied backgrounds to gain an understanding of how the world works.
posted by j03 at 11:41 PM on January 31, 2012 [2 favorites]

Best answer: You probably jump in too quickly, and get burnt out. To those of you suggesting "several newspapers" - this is like telling a picky eater to start with sushi.

Don't try to dive into multiple topics in multiple sources. Trying to track the arts in NYT, the Middle East in the Economist and Al Jazeera, the financial issues/recession, Global Warming and US politics all at once is guaranteed to make your head dizzy and will cause you to give up in frustration.

And rather than picking one source (i.e. the NYT) I would suggest another kind of filter: one issue at a time. What to choose first? Whichever theme is the most interesting to you right now. Not what you think you should be interested. Literally anything that is interesting. Sports? Read up on the recent NBA lockout. Or the many stories of blood doping in cycling. Or the advances in technology for folks with prosthetic limbs. Like your city? Read up on the fascinating history of New York! Have a social justice bent? The US prison system. Immigration issues along the US-Mexico border.

For the next two weeks, read everything you can about your topic. Start with various news sources. Look up certain terms on Wikipedia. Follow some of the resources at the bottom of each article to lead you to new sites and articles. Read ONE good book-length overview on your Kindle. Search Metafilter for various keywords, read those threads, follow leads. Search the New Yorker and the Atlantic for articles. Find a few podcasts on your theme and listen while walking around.

The key here is that you are ONLY allowed to read things you like. You are forbidden to read things that are boring or annoying or difficult. It is your mission to find the most interesting and entertaining sources.

Start a blog, and make it light hearted. Call it "World Domination in 365 days or less" or something slightly less stupid. Whenever you read something, post it to that blog, and write no more than 3 lines about it. It might be how you feel about the topic itself, or the writing, or questions it didn't answer, or how it directly contradicts the article you just read. You are not allowed to write essays or multiple paragraphs, because then you'll put it off, and get too scary, and have too many fears about how to be a smart and good writer.

Build up this kind of curiosity. It will feel awkward at first and get easier with time. You will start to develop good questions and think about holes in what you are learning.
posted by barnone at 12:03 AM on February 1, 2012 [9 favorites]

I second the Guardian Weekly. It is good reporting, but also, it is weekly (obviously). This means there is often greater analysis than just reporting what has happened, because it is not going to be up to the minute. Also, I don't have time to read a paper every day.

For any Australians reading this, there is a fantastic subscription deal right now for $20 for a whole year (but only until 5 February).
posted by AnnaRat at 12:08 AM on February 1, 2012

I'm not sure if this is going to help you, but I hope so... I'm not sure what you are looking for.

I've worked at the United Nations while I was in college, I've been in local government, I worked in broadcast news media, and I developed and produced a board game about politics that won serious awards (although the business partnership behind the endeavor fell apart before serious sales success could occur.)

My take now is that 99% of what you input from most sources is pure shill and re-purposing of bad facts generated by original sources who want to spin any story or event their way. And I used to be a news junkie. But my time on the inside plus researching individual issues has led me, sadly, to this undeniable conclusion.


It's dry as f*ck, but when I want REAL news and research into a topic, I download a recent Corbett Report podcast from iTunes. website, here.

Podcasts are great, and easy to incorporate into your routine. It's OK if you zone in and out of them while you're listening, you still get the info.


Also, I talk to people with native ties to parts of the world I want to know about. Sometimes they spout corporate shill, but usually you hear a different (albeit biased) perspective. My Husband is from Alexandria, Egypt. I'm thinking of all the different takes I've heard on the "Arab Spring," for example. With my background, it's easy to pick out the Real Deal on the ground from the propaganda.


James Corbett, who does the Corbett Report, is super dry. Did I mention? He also does a TON of research into the patterns and history before he covers a topic, and relates all of his primary sources so you can check his reporting.

Ultimately, it's about being able to spot the lies and spin. That's why I think you glaze over when you read the Times. I LOVE Paul Krugman, for example, but there's so much big money interest in the tone of what and how something gets reported - I think you glaze over because it's mostly half-truths designed to sway opinion and outright lies that do same.


This is my professional opinion. I no longer work in the media. I'm still involved in government, but now on a more local level. I have developed a filter for general news and information that serves me well.

James Corbett, while dry, might help you develop your own filter, too.


Get your hands dirty and dig in. There are clear patterns to follow. Once you master the patterns of geo-politics, the minutiae isn't so important to follow... I'll give you a GREAT example from last year....

There was an awful bombing of a Coptic Christian Church in Alexandria, Egypt, last New Year's 2011. Immediately I told my Husband, "That was a False Flag Event - the government was behind it. No one wanted to bomb the Coptics."

Sure enough, after Mubarak fell, it came out that his Minister of the Interior engineered the attack, although it hasn't quite been prosecuted, according to a quick Google search. Meh. At the time, the two perpetrators of the bombing (fundamentalist Muslims) escaped from prison during the Egyptian Revolution and ran to the British Embassy to tell their tale of being encouraged and supported in their endeavor by the Interior Minister Habib el-Adly. They told an old and common story. I'm not sure where the proposed prosecution of Habib el-Adly stands, but the general story is in line with a government regime (Mubarak's) desperate to deflect criticism of their austere policies by creating extreme strife amongst the people they wish to consolidate power over.

In the US, the Corporatocracy uses this technique, in a less violent form (usually!), to convince us there is some ideological difference between Republicans and Democrats. At the Federal level, especially, it's all theater. The Corporatocracy supports representatives on both sides of the aisle with copious amounts of money. They get their desired end result by distracting the constituents of the US with fake controversies.



It's really not that complicated - introduce Conflict, than provide your group's desired Solution after you've whipped everyone into a frenzy. Control the development of the Conflict, and you can direct the Solution.


We used to have a saying in Journalism, "Follow the money." This still applies, although corporate media no longer performs this crucial role.


In short, no wonder you can't take traditional media in. It's all lies,
posted by jbenben at 12:29 AM on February 1, 2012 [10 favorites]

Best answer: I agree with a lot of what is being said here. Don't get too overwhelmed. No one knows everything about everything. it's awesome that you want to learn more about the world. Figure out what you're most interested in first, then begin to specialize in that. Often, a curiosity about one topic will lead to another.

Pick a frame, perhaps! What gets you excited? Is it science? History? Is it art? Is it psychology? Politics? Most of these things are interrelated, and you can start to build systems of understanding. Issues of history come up in politics. Issues of psychology come up in science. And so on.

For me, an interest in political candidates led to an interest in learning more about contrasting health care policies and economic policies. An interest in wildlife conservation led to learning more about green living.

Talk to smart people, who know about subjects you'd like to learn more about. If you are genuinely interested, and ask good questions, many times you can learn reams (and get to know cool people in the process). I learned much more about foreign policy, digital rights, and corporations this way.

I would say, as others have, definitely take note of the biases inherent in the articles you read and the people you talk to. Read even the ones you disagree with. There will always be something. In time, you'll even have your own biases, won't you be proud!

I too have lost nearly all faith in traditional media, as they so often seem guided by special interests and leave out huge details, assume falsely, or imply things without directly stating them. I read a lot more bloggers these days. For politics, has some interesting bloggers and slants.

Stay open, be patient and open-minded, enjoy the learning. Listen, share what you know and don't be afraid to change your views sometimes. It's a lifelong process :)
posted by iadacanavon at 1:01 AM on February 1, 2012 [2 favorites]

The Economist digital subscription includes a full weekly spoken-word version of the magazine. I use it in an app - I don't think it's available as a podcast, but the app is free if you're a subscriber. Though the reading is at a leisurely spoken pace (thus meaning a full issue can run to hours) I find this a useful way to help plough through the pages of the weekly subscription. Take a walk for half an hour at lunchtime, make a bit of progress.

When I signed up, it was actually cheaper to take the hardcopy magazine, with free on-line access, than to take just the digital edition. So basically you get the entire package for less if you take the hardcopy version. Not cheap, but I'd agree it's a good way to follow what's going on in the world. They've just added an entire section on China, which they say is the first time they have expanded their coverage of a single country since they did so for the US in 1942.
posted by sagwalla at 1:37 AM on February 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

'Quality' Childrens TV news shows are great for getting a toehold on current affairs. They tend to have fairly short, clear, unbiased explanations and make no assumptions about prior knowledge.

Newsround on Childrens BBC, and its Australian equivalent ABC3 news are both excellent.
posted by paulash at 2:18 AM on February 1, 2012

phrontist's recommendation and critical assessment of The Economist is spot on.

The access that you get as a subscriber to the archive of issues going back to the late-90s is very useful for researching the background to news stories. It's a British newspaper, but the content is significantly aimed at an American audience, and they have a North America edition.
posted by mattn at 2:23 AM on February 1, 2012

Also a great radio programme is the BBC's From Our Own Correspondent. It's available as a podcast, and each episode is 30 minutes long.

Wikipedia description:

"From Our Own Correspondent is a BBC radio programme in which BBC correspondents broadcast monologues on topical current events from countries outside the UK. The programme offers the BBC's correspondents around the world a chance to give a personal account of events from the epoch-making to the inconsequential."
posted by mattn at 2:33 AM on February 1, 2012

Sick of reading about Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney's latest farts? Then stop reading the New York Times. "They'll print it.", it being any truly enlightening or informative information. "How do you know?" The answer is, we do know, from empirical evidence - they won't. Or it'll be buried on page 50. You won't a steady diet of CBC, BBC, and anything Not American.
posted by Yowser at 2:39 AM on February 1, 2012

want, even.
posted by Yowser at 2:41 AM on February 1, 2012

I am an avid reader of various publications (the previously-mentioned Economist among them) and have recently set up an RSS reader (Google Reader) to be exact. RSS (as indicated by a little orange icon, looking like a ripples on a pond after a rock has been dropped in) is a way for you to import 'feeds' from your chosen news source into one convenient location.

Sources what I'm interested in for general knowledge:

(each one has its own webpage and online articles)

The NYTimes
The Christian Science Monitor
The Economist
Harper's Magazine
Arts and Letters Daily
The Browser

And honestly, MeFi (while not specifically centered around news) is an excellent source. Following links, reading the commentary here, and following the links inside the threads is good reading.

My suggestion is to start from a general source, reading a few articles a day, and sourcing/backtracking what you don't understand or want to know more about.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 4:02 AM on February 1, 2012

There is also The World in 2012, which is the latest in an annual series published by The Economist. It should still be available to purchase in paper copy. The 'Predictions' article gives a good sense of what some of this year's major issues might be.

The Very Short Introductions series is great for mugging up on the background to various topics.
posted by mattn at 4:18 AM on February 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

Along with The Economist, I like The Morning Brief, a blog by Foreign Policy magazine. It is brief, clever, provides links to in-depth articles, and covers news from all around the world. I often think of it as The Mini Economist.
posted by ourobouros at 6:31 AM on February 1, 2012

I am surprised (sort of) at the obvious left-leaning recommendations to the OP. A holistic view is much more appropriate, and OP can ultimately decide what strikes well with them most.

To understand current events, you have to be aware of the political trends in history, that continue till today. You pick your leanings after having studied both.

Practically all of the replies have liberal suggestions, so I won't bother with those. Here are some conservative authors and works you should read up on (summaries are fine):

Edmund Burke
Willam F. Buckley

For current awareness, with a historical background:

The National Review
The Weekly Standard

A great book that covers major human history in great, understandable way (I would start with this 1st):

"A Short History of the World" by H.G. Wells

Enjoy your new journey.
posted by Kruger5 at 7:13 AM on February 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

Instead of trying to read the entire New York Times every day, you could pick up the Sunday edition every week and read through that, along with browsing the website during the week. Articles in the Sunday Times tend to have more background explanation of the kind you're looking for. If you find yourself still not understanding a topic you are interested in, you can read up on Wikipedia.

Also, keep in mind that no matter what method you choose, you're going to find things hard to understand at first, but will find it easier as you go along. Just stick with it.
posted by ultraviolet catastrophe at 10:08 AM on February 1, 2012

Kruger5: Which recommendations have been left-leaning? If anything, the list has been right-leaning, even by U.S. standards.

H.G. Wells is obviously going to be a bit out of date. As an aside, he plagiarized a lot of it, repeating errors in the original.

H.M. Roberts wrote a pretty good single volume history of the world. It's unapologetically focused on The West, which he justifies in terms of the The West's influence on the world.
posted by phrontist at 10:09 AM on February 1, 2012

The Daily Show, of course,

Yes, satire and comedy can help. But if you're TV- and cable-free like me, Jon Stewart isn't regularly accessible -- radio is my lifeline, and I get my satire-news from Harry Shearer, whose weekly Le Show isn't carried by enough NPR stations, but maybe yours.
posted by Rash at 10:26 AM on February 1, 2012

The Economist is great and gives a lot of background information.

I try to listen to NPR but it's hard to catch the shows I like the most. My favs for world news are BBC Newshour and PRI's The World. Both have podcasts. I think Economist has some podcasts too actually but I haven't tried them.

@Rash - I don't have cable and I watch Daily Show/Colbert on comedy central's website.
posted by fromageball at 11:23 AM on February 1, 2012

Nthing NPR podcasts. They are my saving grace - I can listen to bits and pieces at any time of day. I can skip ahead and back, and delete them if there are too many in my queue. They keep me informed without bogging me down.

I also like to skim Google News. Unless you really care about the details, just skimming the headlines will give you an idea of what's going on ("Oh, there are protests in Syria." "Oh, the Syrian government is still in power."). Takes less than 5 minutes top-to-bottom, and you can click on just a few articles if they look interesting.

To me, Google News is better than a magazine or an entire newspaper, because I feel compelled to read a larger % of the magazine or newspaper to know what's going on. It sounds like you might be getting frustrated by trying to get through an entire newspaper, when all you really need is to regularly skim the news and only actually read 2-3 articles.
posted by Tehhund at 11:24 AM on February 1, 2012

Best answer: Most interesting question.

I think it could be useful to subdivide news media into 3 categories based on their primary focus:

What: Fighting in Libya at 11.34 yesterday!!

How: NATO is bombing the crap out of Qaddafi with XYZ-weapon! They cost $$$! It happened here! Look at the map!

Why: How come NATO is interested in Libya? The oil? Naaaw! It's the democracy-thing. Really? Etc, etc.

Most media focus is on the two former no need to pay for that, there is plenty on-line.

You wanna get to the why (with a bit of what & how, obviously). It will take patience, but it might be fun. Choose a quality newspaper - I'd say The Guardian, but that's me -and commit to reading it every day for say a month. It'll get easier. I remember switching from a mostly what & how-oriented newspaper to an analysis-heavy one some 25 years back. It was a drag for the first weeks, but then it became natural.
Warning: you might get hooked :-)
posted by Thug at 1:03 PM on February 1, 2012

I have always thought that the periodical Current History was great for this type of thing. They do a great job giving the historical back story and answering the "how did this situation come to be?" question.
posted by dstopps at 4:29 PM on February 1, 2012

Phrontist said
"The Economist magazine is a pretty good at taking at least one step back from the day to day churn of daily papers. That said, it's written by an anonymous horde of posh Oxbridge types with a "classically liberal" ideology to push".

I am sure that any of the journos working at the Economist would disagree with you there - it's pretty right wing actually. By European standards anyway.
posted by tonylord at 6:40 AM on February 2, 2012

What's going on now is an instance of whatever's always going on.

So if you haven't already, I suggest reading science and philosophy along with news and history.

If you're already familiar with science and philosophy on the path you've chosen, don't sell yourself short. You probably understand more than you've been lead to believe.
posted by edguardo at 9:37 PM on February 2, 2012

tonylord: Classical liberalism, as those at the Economist and others in Britain use it, is right wing.
posted by phrontist at 2:10 PM on February 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

Let's make it easy. Go to NPR and click the Hourly News link, which is 5 minutes long. You can also download it to listen on your smart phone or iPod. You don't even have to listen to it every day. If you listen more days than not, you'll be better informed than most people. Five minutes is all it takes to be better informed.

If you're interested in more in-depth information, go to the Times Skimmer It's attractive, laid out like a real newspaper and easier to read than most busy, ad-ridden websites.
posted by cnc at 5:32 PM on February 3, 2012

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