Wednesday, September 4, 2013

What's the News? for the Rootless

I'm in the process of overhauling my news sources after several years of electronic custom to a handful of papers. 

Lost loves

It used to be that I could rely on my long-time loves, The Atlantic, or The Christian Science Monitor, to sustain me with thoughtful, comprehensive, interesting information, from diverse points of view, on a constellation of topics.

I can remember even now specific pieces from The Atlantic that were written 10 or more years ago, they were that revelatory, and touched on, for example: new ways to look at some diseases (1999) the difference between genetic code that drives our morals versus that which drives our religiosity (1998), public security  (2002), dogs as parasites (1999), the "unbuilding" of the World Trade Center after 9/11 (2002) and a true story of a group of people (1997) who gathered in a particular library on a particular day of a particular year to see what might happen.

As the 2000s matured, however, we grew apart. The Atlantic seemed to enter into a strange union with Vanity Fair, the upscale version of National Enquirer; the pompous and dull Christopher Hitchens, a Vanity Fair crossover, chewed journalistic scenery; the stable of Atlantic contributors seemed to contract to a small clique of favorites; and there came a time when every magazine cover was some dark illustration of pestilence occurring or about to occur in the world. I think the final straw for me was when Britney Spears appeared on the cover (in a break from cover grimness) by dint of some pseudo-intellectual rationalization.

The Christian Science Monitor, I don't know, seemed to lose its way in the digital age. There's no specialness there anymore, a point really brought home by the fact it exercises no judgment on the subject matter of its website ads.

Until recently

My usual rotation included:
Also, the online Atlantic had bounded into my house like a dog who's had a roll in dead fish, wanting to give me a slurpy kiss.

Over time, all of the above, except for the Washington Post, have dissatisfied me for various reasons that I'm not going to bore you with.

It was time to become more intentional

First: I've sworn off celebrity-centered news organs. They used to be harmless brain candy, but now I'm allergic. 

Second: I'm really uneducated about some things going on in the world right now, and it's time to get up to speed.

A few years back, I reformed my book slut ways, and with a similar approach, I set about finding good news sources. Criteria:
  • Yes to thoughtful, considered articles on timely issues
  • Yes to evidence-based information
  • Yes to diverse topics
  • Yes to reporting on good things going on in the world
  • No to overt party- or liberal/conservative-point of view, i.e. no to Huffington Post or Fox
  • No to focus on political strategies instead of issues

I did a little checking around the web for ideas. Ruled out some, and have some on spec.

On trial

These are the online news sources I'm auditioning:

The Guardian
American Prospect
The Economist
Mother Jones
Schneier on Security

I've still got Washington Post on tap, and continue to dip into the New York Times.

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