How do you get leftist news and culture?
April 10, 2019 5:01 PM   Subscribe

I've reached a crossroads where I'm finished with two media entities that I've relied on heavily in recent years: Twitter and Harper's. Now what?

About a month ago, I decided that I needed to quit Twitter because it was drowning out too many other things in my life. I was going to give it up until my birthday, which is Monday, and being off of it has been a resounding success in most ways. I've reclaimed reading, exercise, sleep, and just, fundamentally, happiness. I've lost some things too though: news and analysis from a leftist perspective. I followed many women, queer folks, people of color, anticapitalists, and others whose voices don't usually penetrate my privileged everyday life unless I seek them out-reporters, activists, authors. I miss those voices, and I feel like, although my life is simpler and better, I'm not nearly as well positioned to be an effective ally or to work for change in the same way as I have been for the last few years. I've tried subscribing to my local paper this month but it isn't engaged with these communities and typically focused on crime and traffic, capitalist perspectives on government, etc. I suspect that most media outlets will have similar problems: certainly, e.g., the NYT is not publishing from a leftist perspective. In general, I view the world as bombarding me with center right messages unless I explicitly, painstakingly seek other voices.

I'm at a loss for how to proceed. Let's say that I have a $20 a month budget and that getting back on Twitter is completely off the table. Help me consume better leftist media and be a better citizen!

Relatedly, I have been unhappy with the series of poor editorial decisions that Harper's magazine has made over the last few years and I would like to make a change, but I am not sure how to replace it. I am looking for: a monthly print magazine that publishes investigative reporting, political analysis, short fiction, art criticism, photography, poetry, and book reviews, from a leftist perspective, that isn't going to give Katie Roiphe or various sexual harassers a platform. I don't care about movies, television, or things that are only of parochial interest to New Yorkers, though I'm happy to skip over them if they occur. Thank you!
posted by Kwine to Media & Arts (10 answers total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Subscribe to the Citations Needed Patreon for $5/month. Their regular podcast episodes are free and offer fantastic media analysis from a leftist perspective, but the subscription gets you the "news brief" episodes plus their weekly newsletter emails.

I also highly recommend Current Affairs, whether in print, podcast, or web format.
posted by ludwig_van at 5:58 PM on April 10, 2019 [2 favorites]

Logic Mag is also great, though it has a tech focus (full disclosure: it's published by some of my friends), and I've seen some good things from Commune Mag. There's also Jacobin, which can be hit or miss, but has put out a lot of good content.
posted by ludwig_van at 6:01 PM on April 10, 2019 [2 favorites]

How about adding yourself to the email list for orgs you care about and replace hot takes with actions (a la 5 calls)? I feel as if a news diet (even when it is made up of excellent media) is not as helpful to my mental health as concretely showing up for activism. I spent today at my state capitol for a water action lobby day, for example, which included legislation briefings and trainings and town halls, but also the chance to talk directly to my legislators. I feel like the 5 hours I spent doing that were far richer and better than the same 5 hours with my favorite news sources.
posted by shadygrove at 6:08 PM on April 10, 2019

To replace Harper’s, maybe a combination of the New York Review of Books, Popula, and n+1?

As for Twitter, that is a puzzle I’m still solving myself. For sources I really can’t find elsewhere (if they have public twitter accounts), I google the person’s twitter account and read their tweets a couple times a week. More and more journalists have been starting email newsletters, so if you have particular journalists you liked following on Twitter, you can poke around and see if they have an email newsletter you can join.
posted by sallybrown at 8:01 PM on April 10, 2019

How would you feel about setting up an rss reader and subscribing to 4-5 sources, and checking that once a day?

General lefty headlines: Democracy Now?
posted by enfa at 8:23 PM on April 10, 2019 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I used to read Z Magazine for this. They are online and print. Low on the arts. They have a very particular opinion but I always learn something. In These Times is also a good mag of the American Left. Mother Jones and The Nation are both a little imperfect but have good coverage. Democracy Now really is some of the best independent reporting as does Pro Publica. Many of these are leftist anti-capitalist. I do not have a good handle on media that center GLBTQ voices or people of color, so other sources would need to fill in gaps there.
posted by jessamyn at 8:37 PM on April 10, 2019 [4 favorites]

Best answer: For paid subscriptions, I've found In These Times to be my best bang-for-buck. It's monthly and it is chock-full of good and interesting writing, including lots of stories and viewpoints that completely missed my radar. Apparently you can, for a limited time, subscribe for $1/month. However, they do very little in the way of literature/arts criticism.

Current Affairs is also good, and it contains much more cultural/art content (also, it's a fucking beautiful publication), but it comes out 6 times a year and is somewhat expensive. Jacobin can be good but it's super-doctrinaire, which I find tiresome as hell. The Nation is high in content but variable in quality IMO, but their book reviews are consistently my favorite part of the magazine, even though I've almost never read the books in question.

In addition to print lit, I use an RSS feed to stay up to date on the news. ProPublica is indispensable. In These Times offers selected stories in full for free via RSS. The Democratic Socialists put some good stuff out, too. Africa Is a Country is good for an internationalist left perspective, with good culture/arts content too. Unicorn Riot is informative if you're looking for an explicitly antifascist perspective.
posted by duffell at 6:45 AM on April 11, 2019 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I’ve been really impressed with Le Monde Diplomatique for a global leftist perspective over the last several years.
posted by congen at 4:52 PM on April 11, 2019

Best answer: I like the London Review of Books - I usually prefer its current affairs / culture articles to some of the book reviews. Here are my favourite articles in case that helps get a partial flavour.

I also read the New York Review but find it harder going (I don’t think this is just because I’m in London!). Its language feels a little more formal/old-fashioned to me.
posted by fabius at 3:36 AM on April 12, 2019

Response by poster: A lot of good things to investigate here. Thanks everyone!
posted by Kwine at 11:27 AM on April 12, 2019

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