Friday, January 10, 2014

News for the Rootless: Follow-Up

Back here, I listed news organs that I had on trial to get me better informed.

The list included

The Guardian
American Prospect
The Economist
Mother Jones
Schneier on Security

I also continued to dabble with the online Atlantic. Also, The New York Times and Washington Post.

Plus after that post, I'd added these information sites to my audition list:

Pro Publica
Bitch Media

No thanks!

Atlantic. I finally weaned myself off the Atlantic entirely. I cannot abide the tabloid titles that seem geared primarily to college students. Why X is not Y. .... What Everyone Needs to Know About Z.... The Dark Side of W ....... The Most Dangerous Thing About D .... 

I've shoved the Atlantic into the same file drawer as celebrity "news."

Mother Jones and American Prospect. Again, tabloid-ish titles. Also, there seem to be stables of writers who presume to be journalists, but who apparently operate under very loose standards of objectivity, fact-finding, or even understanding of their subject matter. Where's the editorial oversight? Plus it's generally all bad news all the time. I'm done with both of them.

I'm sad about this because occasionally the above offer jewels of informational reporting, such as Mother Jones' series on prisons.   

When I stumbled on to Pro Publica, I thought I'd found a little nugget of gold. The honeymoon was over when I read its series on acetominaphen. While I have sincere respect for those who have lost loved ones to the drug, the low numbers of such deaths or injuries, in both absolute and relative terms, pale against deaths due to other causes. I just couldn't understand the blitzkrieg of attention focused on this. I still don't, and it killed credibility for me.

The yes list

The Guardian and The Economist. A rich mix of the good and bad about our world; the serious, curious, and frivolous; served up with a minimum of emotional button-pushing. 

Reuters. Pro Public did lead me to this article on Reuters. So when my little fling with Pro Public ended, I went over to the calmer, more thoughtful Reuters. The headlines tell the story in less than 10 words, without hysteria. Shooting Heard at Airport in Congo's Capital. ... Reduced Fed Support Reflected in January Bond-Buying Plan. ... Major Chinese Art Collection Set For Oxford Museum. ...  It's a calm retreat from the carnival side show that is typical of online news.

With The Guardian, The Economist, and Reuters, I get what I want - information that:
  • Covers a wide breadth of subjects, 
  • Covers varying degrees of depth into different subjects,
  • Is accurate, based on what we know now, 
  • Is relatively objective, and
  • Refrains from manipulating my emotions.

Credit: Schneier on Security

Schneier on Security. I like this niche news source on two levels.

  1. I get more informed on the technical side of security issues, which feeds my geek within, even though a lot of the comments go over my head.
  2. Mr. Schneier takes a look at security issues and incidents from various angles, explaining why some incidents or variables are cause for alarm, why others are of minor or moderate concern even when they look alarming, and why things that might look innocuous could have troubling implications. 

Bitch Media.  This news source is provocative in a good way - it presents information from fresh perspectives that make us think. Sometimes the perspective is enlightening and sometimes it provokes strong disagreement. "Bitch Media’s mission is to provide and encourage an engaged, thoughtful feminist response to mainstream media and popular culture."

For the most part, it succeeds in its mission. Like most nonprofits, it runs the risk of mission creep, which could bring it down over time, but for now, that isn't too noticeable.

Credit: Bitch Media

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