a news site with historical data linkouts?
February 13, 2007 5:41 PM   Subscribe

I find that I don't read enough news. When I look at the headlines I am lost about the history of the situation. Does anyone know of a news site that has the news with good historical link-outs to give me a broader understanding of the situation?
posted by lukeomalley to Education (18 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
nytimes.com drops a lot of links into its news reports online

another great news site is drudgereport.com - scroll down past all the junk on top and it has great links to like every major news source around

wikipedia also has good background on most news stories
posted by Salvatorparadise at 6:00 PM on February 13, 2007

I find that the BBC is usually good for this. See the sidebar links in this North Korea story or this bird flu story, for example -- particularly the Q+A links under the "Background" heading.
posted by Urban Hermit at 6:19 PM on February 13, 2007

Seconding the BBC. They have links to related stories, external organisations, and often have background/overview type articles too. I also like that they carry a lot more world news than most American sites (including CNN IMO).
posted by Joh at 6:23 PM on February 13, 2007

The CBC often has in-depth stuff on their website - not for every issue, but for the big ones. They link their in-depth coverage from the related news stories, plus link back to previous stories.
posted by joannemerriam at 6:28 PM on February 13, 2007

I like the BBC for the same reason. But also!

I found that after I toughed it out with the NYT's international section for about two weeks, I suddenly started to know what they were talking about. As hard as they try to explain stuff, they can't squeeze it in. So I had to do my part and get edumacated. It was annoying! But worthwhile. Now I know where Europe is and shit.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 6:28 PM on February 13, 2007

This is possibly a harder question to answer than you think, because news isn't really written for standalone consumption, and you will find yourself chasing an endless causal chain of news. It'll be entertaining research, but you'll follow the threads back to Adam and Eve.

Here's why: If you pick up a newspaper on any given day, you get an incomplete part of thread, almost like taking the middle fifteen comments of a MeFi thread. This is because news runs on a daily cycle, and stories move through pre-set stages:

First, an event will occur.

Day 1: a description of the event, with historical background linking it back to previous events. eg:"President Bush was yesterday accused of eating babies by a prominent toddler. The claims follow a spate of missing babies near the White House"

Day 2: You'll read reaction to the previous day's story. This will have enough context for readers of day 1, but no more.
("The Senate has called a special session to discuss claims that babies were eaten by Pres Bush, and womens' groups are calling for his resignation.")

Day 3: You'll read a story linked to a new event, but relating back to the events of Day 1. It will contain a passing reference to day 1 -- "the news comes in the wake of event X". This is *both* Day 3 *and* a new Day 1.
("The Secret Service has been disbanded over claims they colluded with executive staff in the extraction of youngsters for use inside the White House.")

It's Day 3 stories that are confusing you, because you don't have the context of days 1 and 2. You read about the Secret Service being disbanded and go "What's this about babies?" (although my example breaks down here, because baby eating would get the TELL THE WORLD treatment, which is a bit different and a lot more DAY 3 OF THE BABY-EATING SCANDAL: DID THE SECRET SERVICE DO BUSH'S DIRTY WORK?")

Although you could track down the events of Day 2, it wouldn't be much use to you, because it depends on Day 1. Unfortunately, in really complicated or long-running stuff, finding the ultimate Day 1 is like finding a needle in a haystack.

There are a few solutions to your problem:
1. Make a conscious effort to read the news, from the same source, every day for a week. I guarantee that's long enough for you to swing enough into context that the rest will fall into place eventually. If I've been off work for a fortnight, I can get back into the swing of almost anything by reading the last four days' papers)

2. Read news sources that don't assume a daily news ingestion and write accordingly. These are things like the weekly news magazines.

3. Do research. When you read a story, and are confused by its context, read up on the background on something like Wikipedia. What you need to search for will be signposted in the story: look for phrases such as "following on from", "in the wake of" and so on. These are the events you need to track down. Seriously, though, 1 is a much easier option. Otherwise you chase the loop all the way back, forever and ever, from Day 3 to Day 1, which is itself a Day 3, back to Day 1.

Just break in to the cycle, start to follow along, and you'll get the swing of it.
posted by bonaldi at 6:35 PM on February 13, 2007 [1 favorite]

The best thing for this that I've seen is the Wikiproxy, which finds proper nouns within BBC headlines and turns them into hyperlinks to the appropriate Wikipedia article. Shazam, instant background! Unfortunately it seems to be non-operational at present, but it may return later. Until then, BBC is pretty damn good at providing adequate background, especially the special reports, quick guides, and Q&As (e.g.).
posted by Paragon at 6:36 PM on February 13, 2007

Er, or what RJ Reynolds said a lot quicker: try it for two weeks!
posted by bonaldi at 6:36 PM on February 13, 2007

You might try digg.com. At least that way you can see stories and read the comments which gives some more insight on the topic. At least you will know how people are reacting to the news from many different stand points.
posted by bkeene12 at 7:04 PM on February 13, 2007

Wikipedia tends to get updated with the breaking news and have links to historical information that shows the progress of issues.
posted by Lucie at 7:52 PM on February 13, 2007

I opened this post to say "BBC," but my job has already been done for me.

I guess I'll add that if you're looking to develop an interest in the news and current events in general, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert are a great "gateway drug" for becoming a news hound (I'm not sure, though, if you would be able to watch them if you live outside the U.S.)
posted by liberalintellect at 8:33 PM on February 13, 2007

Cursor for links,tilts left.
posted by hortense at 9:58 PM on February 13, 2007

Times Topics:
Since its inception in 1851, The New York Times has published Times Index, a simple annual index to the contents of the paper.

It offers abstracts of the significant news articles, editorial matter and special features each year, classified by subject, geography, organization and personal name.

In the tradition of the printed Times Index, Times Topics seeks to provide simple access to the contents of NYTimes.com. Each topic page collects all the news, reference and archival information, photos, graphics, audio and video files published on the topic on NYTimes.com.
posted by stuart_s at 10:28 PM on February 13, 2007

Another vote for the BBC. They headline story may assume that you know some basic facts, but there are almost always links to past stories and overviews to help you figure out the situation if you're new to it.
posted by dreamsign at 4:58 AM on February 14, 2007

I felt like an idiot when I first started reading the paper because I didn't know any of the history involved in the stories I read. You will, however, be surprised at how quickly you begin to understand the context. The more days you read the paper, the more historical tidbits you'll pick up. Give yourself a couple of months and you'll feel like you understand what's going on.
posted by HotPatatta at 9:08 AM on February 14, 2007

I was going to say 'BBC', but it seems like that's no longer necessary.
posted by Kololo at 3:56 PM on February 14, 2007

These are both pay sites, but Foreign Affairs and The Economist both have good "backgrounders" for a lot of major issues.
posted by kjars at 6:02 AM on February 15, 2007

Nthing the BBC and The Economist. I've also found that The Christian Science Monitor delves into stories.
posted by luminous phenomena at 2:31 PM on February 21, 2007

« Older Suggestions for online grief support   |   iDon't understand iPhoto Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.