How do people keep up with the news in the Trump era?
February 22, 2018 7:22 AM   Subscribe

Over in the current POTUS45 megathread on the Blue, the question "How does everyone keep up with the news?" came up. Rather than expand on the topic there, I wanted to ask the Green how everyone these days manages not only to stay informed about issues important to them - without entering a bubble - but also to avoid burning out or becoming overwhelmed. For the former, are what are particular websites, Twitter lists, or podcasts that provide useful news digests? For the latter, do people practice certain techniques to manage media-induced stressing out, such as restricting the number of sources to check regularly, setting aside specific times of the day for them, or limiting the amount of time spent on them? What else is there to do?
posted by Doktor Zed to Society & Culture (43 answers total) 38 users marked this as a favorite
Repeating myself from the other thread...

The Weekly Sift is great for this.

And also... support your local newspaper. The old fashioned way to get a managable, curated news stream relevant to you.
posted by OnceUponATime at 7:29 AM on February 22, 2018 [8 favorites]

I found out about Right Richter from the uspolitics threads, and it's a good'n.
posted by aspersioncast at 7:31 AM on February 22, 2018 [2 favorites]

Honestly, it's very easy for me to become overwhelmed and burned out. I mean, political ads are already running on local tv here, and I'm already tired of, and infuriated by, it all. I guess I just keep a slight ear to the wind and, if something seems to percolate up to a point where it seems to be coming from everywhere, then I pay attention. But, I don't have any sources that I check daily. I'd have to up my anxiety meds to dangerous levels, otherwise.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:36 AM on February 22, 2018 [2 favorites]

Drudge, despite his reputation, is fairly reliable. He obviously has his biases, but they are not deal breakers for me.
posted by Fukiyama at 7:37 AM on February 22, 2018 [2 favorites]

Mefi's Own Phire has a daily tinyletter that I love precisely because she does the hard work of distilling the garbage fire into something manageable. One thing of this, one thing of that, one thing of another. It's great.

It was mentioned on the blue but bears repeating because it's a very good newsletter.

Subscribe here.
posted by phunniemee at 7:39 AM on February 22, 2018 [19 favorites]

I find absolutely useful and not overwhelming.
posted by pinochiette at 7:43 AM on February 22, 2018 [17 favorites]

What The Fuck Just Happened Today. You can subscribe to daily email synopses too.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 7:48 AM on February 22, 2018 [14 favorites]

Vox in my RSS reader (Feedly). They do a nice job covering the major political events, have explainers for when you totally miss something and have no idea wtf it's about, and they have nice cultural coverage too (movies, music, occasional sports (like now with the Olympics)). They also do good (and often amusing) coverage of internet things, memes that explode into the zeitgeist, hilarious twitter happenings, terrible r/the_donald things, etc., so that I understand those things without having to go engage in reading people's bizarre pizza theories and horrible pepe memes.

Reading it in my RSS reader means I can easily clear articles I'm not interested in. And then I also have a couple of local news/politics sites that I follow in the same RSS folder, so it's like I get my national news, I get my local news, I get some arts and culture coverage.

(For news alerts, I'm using The Guardian. CNN was pushing me too much trivial stuff as breaking, and most other apps weren't pushing enough. I miss Breaking News!)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:02 AM on February 22, 2018 [2 favorites]

Drudge, despite his reputation, is fairly reliable. He obviously has his biases, but they are not deal breakers for me.

His biases are deal breakers for me. If you like his presentation, the Drudge Retort might be right up your alley.
posted by mcdoublewide at 8:12 AM on February 22, 2018 [6 favorites]

Fight Fire with Phire by MetaFilter's Own.
posted by komara at 8:14 AM on February 22, 2018 [3 favorites]

I read sober and dry newspapers, in paper format, like Financial Times and Wall Street Journal. Maybe that means I don't "keep up" with the news on an hourly time scale, but that's a tradeoff that I'm perfectly willing to make.

I don't feel the need to be informed about the last 6 hours of noise and talking heads shouting at each other on cable news. And if something "important" happens, I'll hear about it.
posted by theorique at 8:29 AM on February 22, 2018 [4 favorites]

I've been checking in with Agence France-Presse's English-language site, The US is just another country to them so there's nowhere near the hysteria you'll see on a US based site.
posted by Ampersand692 at 8:40 AM on February 22, 2018 [2 favorites]

Local print newspaper and this cool ritual thing called the nightly news on TV (PBS News Hour, not those others) where they tell you what happened during the last 24 hours, then they do it again in 24 hours with no hype or repetition. Since I've gotten back into the 20th century mode, I do scan headlines online but don't get sucked in to ongoing alerty stuff.
posted by Gnella at 8:42 AM on February 22, 2018 [2 favorites]

I set aside a set time every day or week (depending on my schedule) to check the news in certain key areas I'm interested in (my immediate local area, US politics, my old home country & environmental news) outside that time I avoid looking actively at news, though being online some will seep into my consciousness. I find having a set time to actively read, worry, stress about the news helps. Newspapers in coffee shops on Saturday mornings are great for this.

I've also taken to going well x is stressing me the hell out what active thing can I do right now to help. Now usually it's donate or write a letter or make a phone call, but I do try to do that at least once a week or so too.

I know it's not a lot, but it's what I can do without entering a worry deathspiral of sleepless nights & stops me running up to strangers screaming in blind fury at the shit that's going one.
posted by wwax at 8:45 AM on February 22, 2018

I like listening to The Daily for a snapshot of what's going on. It's 20-30m of US-centric news, but high quality.
posted by yaymukund at 8:54 AM on February 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

I read the online version of the Washington Post, the online and weekend physical versions of my local paper, The Salt Lake Tribune, subscribe to Time Magazine, and NPR. Real journalism needs our real money to stay relevant and alive.
posted by trbrts at 8:59 AM on February 22, 2018 [2 favorites]

I subscribe to The Skimm and read it every weekday morning. It covers what's going on with a bit of jokiness (that some people find problematic when the jokes miss) but without any of the panic or uninformed hot takes of Twitter or the more independent sites/newsletters. It links to the mainstream news sites so I can go more in depth when I want to.
posted by kimberussell at 9:03 AM on February 22, 2018

One website that gives good summary is:
posted by Obscure Reference at 9:07 AM on February 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

I'm with theorique; part of what's so awful about the current US political and media situation is how hyperbolic the reporting is. I prefer slow news. I go all the way slow and mostly read the print edition of The Economist; the weekly format and strictly limited space means the stories they run are actually worth my time. There's only 6 pages of US news but boy, those 6 pages really count for something.

That worked well when I was still on Twitter and exposed to the stream of daily outrages that are US politics right now. But now I'm boycotting Twitter, so I've supplemented my weekly read with a couple of daily sources I read via Feedly. Dave Pell's Next Draft is a thoughtful daily roundup biased towards lesser known stories. And the already linked What the Fuck Just Happened Today is good to hit the highlights of daily Trump outrages.
posted by Nelson at 9:08 AM on February 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

Nthing whatthefuckjusthappenedtoday. I also have the following on my bookmarks bar without titles--just icons: AP, Reuters, AFP, UPI, BBC, The Guardian (UK homepage), El País, Deutsche Welle, Eurasianet, South China Morning Post (HK home page), Asahi Shimbun, ABC (Australia), and RFI's Journal en français facile. I definitely do not click any one of them very often. I just had essentially this question myself a few months ago and set that up so I can randomly check in with places around the world that vary their US coverage from more than enough (newswires) to some (UK/Aus. sources) to little or none (others), depending on what I feel up to.
posted by Wobbuffet at 9:20 AM on February 22, 2018 [2 favorites]

For the insideout view...

A quick browse of Twitter (which isn't helpful if you are not versed in spotting political spin, but if you can tead between the lines it's pretty fascinating,) then I contrast that with the front page of Yahoo News (for bottom barrel) various more reputable news sites (pick one or two) which I consider the ultimate agenda indicator (for example, Yahoo had near zero headlines of the Parkland HS kids and their activism for a good chunk of days.) I guess I like to see what's being suppressed?

I'm usually more interested in what's not being widly reported, and then when it DOES get widely reported. Like Giuliani Partners' client relationships to all the Russian companies and banks tied to the Trump Organization and people who served on the election transition team. (wowzers!)

Everyone I know that's well informed (but less news geeky than me) reads The Skimm and other sites previously mentioned.
posted by jbenben at 9:26 AM on February 22, 2018 offers a surprisingly in-depth daily summary of major U.S. political news.
posted by kyrademon at 9:30 AM on February 22, 2018 [2 favorites]

I read the online edition of The Richmond Times Dispatch in the morning. And I like The Inside Daily Brief for the major national news stories.

I found cutting way back on news sources has been very good for my ability to deal with it all.
posted by COD at 9:35 AM on February 22, 2018

The Financial Times is good because it's dry, comprehensive, and truly international, and they aren't in the business of whipping people into an emotional frenzy. Relevant US news is in the "International" section alongside articles about many other countries. It's a useful dose of perspective.

It's not that they're unbiased, but the bias is literally just pro-international-finance, which is easy to see through. About the only egregiously partisan articles are when they get hysterical about Latin American countries threatening the rights of bondholders.

Sometimes they'll report on hot issues with an interesting financial perspective, like a recent article looking at bankruptcies and tanking share prices for gun manufacturers. They had anticipated that Hillary's election would result in a push for gun control, which results in huge sales for them as paranoid gun freaks stock up, but Trump was elected instead so now nobody is buying.
posted by vogon_poet at 9:51 AM on February 22, 2018 [2 favorites]

What two others said above, Fight Fire with Phire. It used to be a Monday-Friday newsletter but today Phire announced that she is expanding the content of the newsletter while dropping publication to 3x a week. I think that is an excellent plan because honestly, daily reading of depressing (for obvious reasons) stuff can be hard even though a "this made me smile/laugh" link is always included. So I will be relying all the more on Fight Fire with Phire. I need to go give her some money for sure. Also, the nonprofit Mother Jones is one of my regular sources for reliable (fact-checked, even) info and could also use some support.
posted by Bella Donna at 9:52 AM on February 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

How I keep up with the news

From left to right:
@realDonaldTrump (not followed)
@JamilSmith (this guy is brilliant for staying on the pulse of black takes on affairs btw)
@RadioFreeTom (this guy is brilliant for small-c conservative and never Trumper)
@TheRickWilson (same as Tom Nichols)
posted by Talez at 10:04 AM on February 22, 2018 [3 favorites]

That list isn't exhaustive. That's just my laptop. My desktop has another half a dozen I'm also following there and my iPhone has another half a dozen. It all ebbs and flows so people disappear from the tabs when their expertise becomes less relevant or they're writing less and pop up when something new pops up and they're writing heavily.
posted by Talez at 10:06 AM on February 22, 2018

I subscribe to three newsletters that I think capture various angles:
- Daily Pnut: I like the focus on world news to reminds me that there's stuff happening outside America's fucked up politics - like, you know, the shit happening in Syria and Somalia. They contextualize pretty well while keeping it relatively short.
- What the Fuck Just Happened Today?: completely focused on US politics, and, uh, something (or many somethings) fucked up happens pretty much every day.
- NextDraft: a liberal & slightly Bay Area focused slant of general daily news, including US politics, international, technology, culture, food & health, etc. Good mix of important stuff & interesting tidbits. I don't watch TV at all, so this is a nice way to keep up with the cultural zeitgeist. I like how he often includes links from various organizations on a particular topic, typically including at least one background info article.
posted by Jaclyn at 10:14 AM on February 22, 2018 [2 favorites]

I spend way too much time newsgathering, personally. I don't recommend it.

Two good daily summaries you can get are at (which you can read via RSS) and the daily email Wake Up To Politics (it's written by a 15-year old!). If you are interested in downballot stuff, worth a daily check in at the BlueMidterm2018 subreddit (Reddit, obviously, but very low on the asshole quotient).
posted by Chrysostom at 11:29 AM on February 22, 2018

I've been basically avoiding all news except what makes it to Metafilter. So far, no nervous breakdown.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:32 AM on February 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

I use Twitter and I follow specific reporters who I think are interesting and report on the stuff I care about. I am left-leaning, so I am interested in those who will bring to attention issues I care about, but I also just follow general reporters who do good work. You haven't mentioned which issues you care about, so it's hard to give you specific recommendations, but here are some people I follow:

@RyanLizza (CNN political analyst, was the guy who spoke to the Mooch)
@JuddLegum ‏(Think Progress, left-leaning)
@paulkrugman ‏(New York Times, economist)
@jonfavs ‏(Former Obama speechwriter, current podcaster)
@NateSilver538 (Political statistician/analyst, one of the few who thought Trump had a chance of winning)
@ClareMalone (Politics coverage for Nate Silver's website)
@SulomeAnderson (foreign affairs and Middle East)
@MattGertz (Media Matters, focuses on media coverage of politics)
@FrankLuntz ‏(Pollster, typically right-leaning/polls are featured on Fox News often)
@ThePlumLineGS ‏(Washington Post political blogger)

And so on. If you have certain things you care about, whether it's technology or feminism or anything else, there are reporters or activists who specialize in it. Also, depending what you care about, many news outlets have specific Twitter accounts for topics, like @nytimesmusic or @nythealth.

I listen to several podcasts too, like NPR's Money Planet, NPR's On Point or the left-leaning Pod Save America.
posted by AppleTurnover at 1:16 PM on February 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

No Twitter or TV news ever. NYT, The Economist, NPR, and other similar sources that cover exactly what's important a day or two after it happens are invaluable. Vox's The Weeds podcast and Slate Money are good too. They cover what you need to know, without getting into the insane 24/7 mind-melting constant stupid drama.
posted by miyabo at 1:47 PM on February 22, 2018

Also, mindset matters a lot. The president is basically an Internet troll. He doesn't believe anything he says, and his staff certainly knows better than to carry out his insane ramblings as if they were marching orders. Journalists who take what he says and interpret it as carefully-thought-out proclamations that he intends to stick to are part of the problem. I understand that they have to do it but if the words don't stand up to analysis, don't bother analyzing them.
posted by miyabo at 1:53 PM on February 22, 2018 [3 favorites]

I have The Washington Post's The Daily 202 (link to most recent one) emailed to me every day. It usually shows up at 8-9 am. The email is key because then I don't have to go to the website and read any comments. I read it at the beginning of my day and then I don't check the news again.
posted by chainsofreedom at 4:19 PM on February 22, 2018

Hvper (the secret is to mouse over and get the blurb, you can read dozens of news stories without clicking on a single link).
posted by furtive at 7:02 PM on February 22, 2018

To address the second half of your question, I found moderate success with only checking the news during certain times. For a while, I only opened my RSS feed if I was on the way to or from work (I take public transportation, don't do this if you drive, obviously!). Once I got home for the day, no more news.

I ended up having to cutting back even more, and now don't explicitly go to news sites at all. Instead, I read my local paper's daily email summary while I'm on break at work, and that's it. If I end up re-introducing news sites at some point, I may do it right before exercising, since being angry gives me extra motivation.
posted by catabananza at 7:31 PM on February 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

I really, really like Fighting Fire with Phyre (not linking things here, since everyone else has). I also read Dave Pell's Next Draft religiously. I have a slightly personalized Google News feed I check once a day, and a daily newsletter from my local paper. I no longer subscribe to The Daily Pnut... it was just too much.
posted by lhauser at 7:50 PM on February 22, 2018

To keep up with the news, I use twitter. I follow a whole lot of people, both verified accounts and regular folks, and just add new ones as I run across them. I follow a lot of foreign news organizations to get a different perspective on things. To keep from being overwhelmed, I never, ever watch tv news. It just makes me want to throw things, because of how much they leave out. And then most weekdays I catch the first 15 minutes or so of The View, because they discuss the news and break it down, and Joy Behar usually gets a few good zings in, and then they hit a point where I want to throw things at them, so I turn it off.
posted by MexicanYenta at 8:50 PM on February 22, 2018

My anxiety will quickly deathspiral if I read too much news. I stopped reading, listening, watching, everythinging news several months ago. My best friend, on the other hand, is a news junkie. I've finally broken him of the habit of newsing at me, just vomiting it all over me every time we'd talk.

Now, if something major happens, he'll tell me to stay off social media. If I'm feeling up for it, I'll ask him what happened. Or I might not. Sometimes I'll ask him if I've missed anything. Evidently there was a thing in New York I missed. And he told me just enough to know there was a school shooting in Florida.

If you have a friend like this, they can be invaluable. (If you don't, I can share mine!)
posted by The Almighty Mommy Goddess at 3:19 AM on February 23, 2018

I wake up in the morning and listen to Morning Edition or The Takeaway on NPR. I subscribe to the Sunday Times in print. Online, I read the day's Times headlines, the Guardian, and whatever articles from the WaPo or WSJ pop to the top of my feed. I think it's very very important not to depend on the feed, though, but to identify at least a few sources you go to daily for a filtered, edited and thoughtful experience of the news, rather than the barrage of more sensationalist garbage that results from most social media news discussion. A lot of it is frankly unimportant, and a lot more lacks sufficient context.

I also read the New Yorker and Mother Jones, both in print, for longer-form commentary and investigation. Finally, the politics and news threads on MetaFilter tend to surface individual pieces and perspectives I wouldn't have otherwise discovered.

I do need to turn it down regularly. I listen to RTE Radio (Ireland) for a break from US-perspective news, and a lot of entertainment podcasts. And not every day has to be a newsreading day. There is little negative consequence to turning off the media for a full weekend. The world will still be on fire when you get back.
posted by Miko at 6:51 AM on February 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

I read Phire's newsletter (mentioned several places above) to keep up with the day to day without being overwhelmed and subscribe to paper versions of The Guardian Weekly and Le Monde Diplomatique. The time delay on The Guardian is really useful because you can see how story framing changes or our collective amnesia of the very recent past and how quickly things that seemed very important in last week's daily news were often just sensationalism. Le Monde Diplomatique is fantastic long form international journalism with historical and political context.
posted by congen at 9:48 AM on February 23, 2018

NYTimes app news and politics push alerts are the only thing I allow to actively intrude on my attention. They're pretty good about sticking to major developments, though they will slip in a feature story or op-ed a few times a week.

I'm surprised no one's mentioned Axios. Good insidery political reporting that gives concise capsule coverage of major events throughout the day. They sticky top news for drive-by browsing, but I've got an RSS subscription for catching up at the end of the day. Politico is also pretty good for this stuff.

As long as you keep its strong bias in mind, Drudge (preferably ad-blocked) is a good round-up of the right-wing/sensationalist news zeitgeist, if you're worried about filter bubbles.
posted by Rhaomi at 11:34 PM on February 23, 2018

I highly recommend all the Crooked Media podcasts, but if you don't have time time to listen, they're launching a new daily newlsetter - What A Day:
...a newsletter from Crooked Media delivered to your inbox every night. It’ll tell you all you need to know about what’s happening, why it matters, and what you can do about it. No bullshit. No cynicism. No excuses.

What A Day isn’t just a summary of the headlines. We’ll catch you up on what’s actually important, plus bring you the news you might have missed—stories that gave us hope, sent us into a rage spiral, inspired us to get involved, or just made us laugh.
posted by zakur at 7:03 PM on February 24, 2018

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