How to stay informed without losing my mind or my day? Trump filter
January 24, 2017 2:21 PM   Subscribe

It seems obvious that the need to be well-informed about current events is crucial right now. But how do I do this productively?

The problem is that I lose way too many hours jumping around news sites and twitter, while also listening to a lot of podcasts, trying to 1) keep up with everything and 2) sometimes go back to try to delve deeper into some issues I've been pretty ignorant on before. While I have always read and watched the news in some form, this is really the first time that I find myself losing hours to it.

What's the most productive way to do this? Do you wake up early every day and give yourself a half hour for news and then shut it off for the rest of the day? Do you devote most of your reading to weekend mornings? Is there one or two particular news sources that you feel give you the most "bang for your buck"? I would like to stay informed on both sides of the argument wherever possible.
posted by kmr to Society & Culture (27 answers total) 75 users marked this as a favorite
To be honest with you, the Metafilter election threads are the best source of news I've seen anywhere. A few minutes of scrolling every few hours works well.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 2:28 PM on January 24, 2017 [23 favorites]

Metafilter election threads are literally about 80% of how I stay informed right now.
posted by corb at 2:29 PM on January 24, 2017 [17 favorites]

I've combined a very similar feeling of news-black-hole and weariness about alternate news sources into a NYT subscription. I do a news read in the morning, then in the evening I scroll down to the more human stories. Works for me.
posted by H. Roark at 2:29 PM on January 24, 2017 [5 favorites]

I use two newsletters: The Skimm and Next Draft. The Skimm comes in the am, ND comes in the pm. I read them both thoroughly. I follow a very small set of smart, close friends on Twitter, and when they start freaking out about something, I go look up what it is. Other than that, no news for me. It was hard at first, but I am so much happier. I find that with this method, I am informed, but not paranoid. If I need to know more about something, I am not starting from zero and have a solid basis for learning.

For what it's worth, I care passionately about politics and a couple of specific issues, and I was at the Women's March in DC on Saturday. However, I've given up the need to be on top of ALL THE THINGS ALL THE TIME, because doing so was damaging my mental and physical health.
posted by OrangeDisk at 2:30 PM on January 24, 2017 [7 favorites]

I've had to cut my internet time way down because I'm getting so incensed over so many things and literally making myself sick. I decided today to instead run for office and will put all my energy into that.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 2:37 PM on January 24, 2017 [112 favorites]

Please post links to these threads? Thanks!

Also, I adore the Joseph Farrell podcast that's available on iTunes, under 20 min, and posts about once per week. It only highlights one or two things that you really really need to know. This week it was about Russia possibly scheduling training exercises with the Philippines + some events that indicate Russia and Turkey are forging a stronger alliance over fighter jets, and how this effects US alliances and indicates declining US Military dominance.... In other words, and actual picture of whats going on in the big picture, not just the weird little curated perspectives we're getting in echo chambers.
posted by jbenben at 2:39 PM on January 24, 2017 [5 favorites]

My method has been to make a commitment to read a certain number of long form news articles a day. I skim twitter a few times a day and if I see a link, I instantly bookmark it into a folder. Same with the metafilter political threads. I try not to engage too much beyond that. Then when I have time, I go back and read those articles, start to finish, without distraction.
posted by tofu_crouton at 2:39 PM on January 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

I've quit trying to glean real news from any of the cable news sites or blogs. I subscribed to the New York Times and get their morning and evening email updates. This is a new and big change for me but so far it's working quite well.
posted by something something at 2:41 PM on January 24, 2017 [6 favorites]

Twitter and Facebook news have been such a black hole for me, because there is a bottomless pit of content there. I haven't deleted them from my phone yet, but I have hidden those apps deep into a folder to cut down on the "bored, mindless, angry" browsing pattern. I am also aiming for no more than 15 minutes on the Washington Post in the morning, using an actual timer on my phone.

This is a habit formed from the election season, but I've basically stopped listening to NPR's Morning Edition and All Things Considered. I listen to Marketplace, which touches on some political news, but mostly in how it affects businesses. I still feel like I'm well informed.

As a general metric, I think about how long it takes me to read a newspaper (about an hour to deeply read all of it) and spend no more time on news media than that each day.
posted by topophilia at 3:04 PM on January 24, 2017 [3 favorites]

This is the current election thread.

See tag "election2016" for past and future threads.
posted by slipthought at 3:07 PM on January 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

Addendum (for following MetaFilter election threads)

Protip: Click the timestamp of the last comment you read to mark your place in the thread. As the thread gets longer, it can be difficult to reload or find your place. If you reload the page, it will reload at the last timestamp you clicked.
posted by slipthought at 3:11 PM on January 24, 2017 [25 favorites]

I'm building my own kind of almanac/web portal in an attempt to address this and some other issues. My current favorite place is 2017 by Day (Wikipedia) which gives really brief, well-maintained summaries of yesterday's big news from around the world.

Beyond that I find some interest in tracking authors and journalists who I respect, usually on Twitter. But that's much less organized.
posted by circular at 4:16 PM on January 24, 2017 [2 favorites]

Maybe you're already doing this, but never read the comments section (except here!) Nothing else makes me crazier. I have to keep reminding myself of this every so often because I tend to slip up.
posted by eeek at 4:24 PM on January 24, 2017 [2 favorites]

I'd suggest using a RSS reader (I use Feedly and like it a lot) and subscribing to RSS feeds that interest you – pretty much every news and media site still supports RSS and Feedly makes it easy to add sources just by putting in the site's url. You instantly eliminate a lot of the noise from going to individual sites (as well as dealing with distracting ads).

I have dozens of feeds arranged in groups that lets me see new stories each day. No pictures, just a list of the new stories from each site, which makes it easy for me to pick what I want to read and ignore the rest. And because it's easy to skim through, I can include a much broader list of sources to choose from so I can get a diverse set of viewpoints.
posted by homesickness at 4:31 PM on January 24, 2017 [5 favorites]

I just read the NY Times in the morning and after work. Almost all comment threads, including here, are just too reactionary to whatever tiny issue is happening this minute without taking any sort of longer view and it is exhausting.
posted by smackfu at 4:36 PM on January 24, 2017 [5 favorites]

I really like NYT and The Economist. It especially helps to read world news articles since what's happening in the US right now is not unique.

Twitter is awful. Most of the info on there is factually accurate, but hyperbolic and exaggerated. It's like junk food for your brain. Or cocaine.
posted by miyabo at 5:09 PM on January 24, 2017 [2 favorites]

I decided today to instead run for office and will put all my energy into that.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes

Uh...I'm following Metafilter, Slate, Vox, and these days.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:14 PM on January 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

I subscribe to the Sunday New York Times and the New Yorker. They come once a week and, if I'm good, I get a through a little bit of both each day.

I'm not in the car much these days, but when I am, I put on NPR just to get an idea of what's going on in the world.

I joined a feminist book club, with a mix of both non-fiction and fiction books which help me put what I'm learning about in larger contexts.

I personally find it too difficult myself to reading or listening to the news at certain times of day, because the news is 24 hours (even back in the olden days). So if I'm feeling overwhelmed I'll just do something else--run an errand, complete a chore, clean up a bit. Then I'll read something else, here or there, when I'm ready.
posted by girlmightlive at 6:38 PM on January 24, 2017

Things I've done: 1. The day after the election, I switched my clock radio from NPR to KEXP.

2. I installed the #Make America Kittens Again Chrome extension , so whilst the news ma be disturbing, I won't see Trump's face anywhere. There are some sites, however, where this won't work.

3. I trust my personal FB feed - if something big comes down, they'll talk about it. Other than that, I stay away from most news sites. I also like the MetaFilter Megathreads.

4. For long-form news and analysis, I really like The New Yorker.
posted by spinifex23 at 6:40 PM on January 24, 2017 [3 favorites]

I limit myself to a few minutes (both in the morning and at night) to the Washington Post (because I am a fed), and make longer nighttime visits to the Metafilter threads.

In other words, and actual picture of whats going on in the big picture, not just the weird little curated perspectives we're getting in echo chambers.

Thanks, my new band name will be "Napoleon and the Curated Echo Chambers."
posted by Napoleonic Terrier at 6:41 PM on January 24, 2017 [6 favorites]

I've been off twitter the past few weeks because it was just too much (and I really really loved reading twitter). Instead I've been reading WaPo every day online, keeping up here, and whatever friends share on social media. I don't think I've missed anything important and probably got to skip some troll-inspired or pop culture nothingbombs.
posted by ghharr at 8:48 PM on January 24, 2017

I'm on the other side of the Atlantic, but I got massively overwhelmed with the firehose of news that I cracked a few weeks ago. Needed to swap quantity for quality.

So I culled all of the news-related (and especially politics-related) stuff out of my RSS reader, and un-followed almost everything on twitter which wasn't a real person I was genuinely interested in hearing from. No news, no brands. I re-tuned my car and alarm clock radios from BBC Radio 4 to a music station, and I stopped watching rolling news in the background by default.

It's been bliss. I don't feel that un-informed, as sometimes I'll watch the evening news on TV or pick up a weekend newspaper, and if something really big happens I'll hear about it quickly anyway. The recent AskMe on magazine subscriptions has nudged me to try a few new titles too, both British and American, so I'll probably settle on a subscription to a magazine soon too.
posted by A Robot Ninja at 1:32 AM on January 25, 2017 [1 favorite]

I've blocked all news sources on Facebook, and I've tried to mute "trump" and related terms on Twitter. But Twitter muting doesn't seem to work all that well. I've been watching the 30 minute BBC News show on PBS from the treadmill at 7 AM, and that has been interesting to see what US news is considered important to the BBC. For example, this morning they were very into the Wall, but didn't mention the muting order against all public communications from many Fed agencies at all.

I'm not that happy with how it's working as I'm still seeing too much news. I may need to just give up Twitter, or drastically change who I follow there.
posted by COD at 6:34 AM on January 25, 2017 [2 favorites]

I'm taking a look at Seems to middle of the road and full of the latest fed news.
posted by KleenexMakesaVeryGoodHat at 8:47 AM on January 25, 2017 [2 favorites]

I agree with the Hill and maybe also Politico--you can also take a look at Roll Call. They are much less overheated than a lot of other newspapers because they're almost like trade magazines for politicians and staffers and so, they tend to report mostly bare facts without too much opinion.

Absolutely avoid comments sections like the plague. My greatest moments of despair and hopelessness since this Administration started have come from reading comments on newspapers and liberal blogs. Alt-right types are everywhere in comments sections and reading them makes you feel like they're far, far more numerous than they actually are. This is clearly an intentional strategy on their part.
posted by armadillo1224 at 8:47 AM on January 26, 2017 [2 favorites]

I skim NYT, New Yorker, Economist, WSJ, WashPo, Guardian, Der Spiegel, Hill & Politico in the AM. I'm a news junkie, so I have carefully curated FB & Twitter feeds — which I don't view as reliable, per se, just "first responders" and "what do my friends care about." Never use social media on your phone, swyping is much slower than typing so the time sink is enormous if you frequently share articles or participate in local events and groups like me!

For issues of great interest, I keep a running list of long reads and books.

1/2 hour in AM, 1/2 hour in PM for news; ~1 hr daily for long reads.
posted by fritillary at 8:54 AM on January 26, 2017

Am thinking of recommendations to give out as well as follow. Was wondering what people think about the Washington Post's Daily 202 column ( example, other example ). Seems thorough, though expansive.
posted by ZeusHumms at 12:22 PM on January 30, 2017

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