Fired Up, Part 1: Changing Where, When and How I Get Information

I wrote an impassioned post following the results of the election. Still amped, I had another sleepless night, up at 3am. As I have for months, I logged in and went to the usual sites, CNN, BBC, The Washington Post. No need to go to 538. Polls mean nothing to me anymore.

canstockphoto15203858Quickly I scroll through click bait headlines, breeze through articles, scroll down through the comments. It’s all the same. The same pundits turning themselves into pretzels, the same commenters calling each other names and reciting questionable facts and hyperbole. It’s as if the election were still going on and people are unwilling or unable to shift gears. Yes, my candidate lost and yes, the next four years are going to be awful. Time to move on.

My sources of information failed to prepare me for the election results. I had found echo chambers of propaganda and confirmation bias. I had sought reassurance that this loathsome individual and his posse of slicked-back Breitbart winged monkeys were not, in fact, contenders. I was wrong and despite my inquiring nature and hungry mind, I was not prepared to fully participate in democracy. Most of us simply aren’t.

I don’t watch TV anymore, because online streaming is wonderful and generally free of commercials and vapid anchor chatter. I do listen to NPR, which includes a nice dollop of the BBC and the CBC. But the majority of my news comes from online. I avoid Facebook and Twitter feeds, curating those sites with a hammer.

This morning I cleared my bookmark Media folder. I am no longer interested in infotainment. I am no longer interested in being soothed. I put together a list of sources that are drier, less partisan, less flash and more substance, as well as international sources. I’ll share that list here, but won’t spend a lot of time defending my choices.

The second thing I did was create a Legislature folder. I bookmarked my city government, state and federal legislature websites. I went to each of my states US Congress people’s websites (of all parties) and signed up for the e-newsletters of upcoming and ongoing legislation.

Thirdly, how and when I retrieve this information makes a difference. I’m an early riser and while I’ve changed my morning routine to include meditation, journal-writing and offline reading, the last thing I do, before writing, is read the news. We all know how that ends up – two hours later I’m looking at cute chinchilla videos, nowhere near prepared to write. I’m limiting my news reading to lunchtime and the sources I’ll read will likely not have chinchilla links.

canstockphoto6569979Lastly, I will no longer read comments sections following news articles. Many of my revamped news sources do not have commenting as an option. As much as I am interested in what is happening and what people think about things, I think we can all agree that comment sections on news articles are Exhibit A of the Dunning-Kruger effect. None of us is as smart as we think we are. And to get smarter, we have to reach up, not down.

It’s time to reset, to arm myself with information, to learn how my government works on a micro-level. Information must precede any action and the sources must be curated. Talking points do not an informed citizen make. This is how my revolution begins…

My list of news sources:

For Legislative Sources:

If you have sources or ideas for sharing information, please share. The goal is to find less biased, less partisan sources with a focus on disseminating core information and not entertainment.

61 Comments on “Fired Up, Part 1: Changing Where, When and How I Get Information

  1. Pingback: Fired Up, Part 1: Changing Where, When and How I Get Information — The Green Study – shoptodayblog

  2. Thank you, Michelle!
    I’m glad I already use a couple of these sources, and grateful for the other recommendations.
    You have also modeled for me exactly what I want to do–keep a closer eye on my elected officials and inform myself of their policy positions.
    Looking forward to Part 2 and beyond!
    Have a great day!

    Like

  3. You made me smile with this post. People look at me weird when I tell them I don’t watch the news, like I am less informed than them. In actuality I just have different information than them. Information that serves me well and keeps me sane (sort of). Thanks for the links!

    Like

    • I try to sit down sometimes with my husband and watch the news with him, but he gets really tired of me telling people on TV to shut their pie holes. It’s all that cutesy chatter in between and the 5 million #$%@ graphics on the screen. It’s why CNN even online has been crossed off the list – it’s become this mishmash of graphics, inconsistent fonts and an impotent combination of solid news and “promoted” stories.
      Ah well. I’m just an old broad with prescription reading glasses trying to get some information…

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Michelle, I’ve been wrestling with where to get reliable, articulate, and reasonably unbiased news without the shouting or the overwhelming graphics. And where to get more of a global perspective. I want to make up my own mind, not have somebody try to do it for me. I really appreciate your list and will check out the ones I am unfamiliar with. As you say, it’s time for a change. Except NPR—NPR stays. Thanks!

    Liked by 2 people

    • NPR is definitely my go-to on the radio. I’m tired of feeling like I have to be on a partisan “team” to get the news. The global perspective is so important, because we can only learn so much staring at our own navels. For me, information is always the first stop before effecting change. Best wishes in your search, Donna!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Michelle, I have started following http://www.BillMoyers.com and you may want to consider it for your list. While many of the stories I’ve read in the last couple of days align with my “bias,” I don’t think they are biased. They seem factual and straightforward. Good climate/environment coverage, too.

        Like

        • I like his disposition, so thanks for that, Donna. One of my favorite books is “The Language of Life: A Festival of Poets” where he interviews poets. I also love his interview of Pema Chodron.

          Like

  5. I can’t watch network news anymore… It is nothing but fluff stuffed in between drug side-affect warnings. It is also getting harder and harder for me to watch NEWSHOUR. On the night of the election, not one of their commentators supported Trump, even the Republicans. That says something.

    Here is a thought, when I worked for the Minnespolis Police Department, our leadership worked hard to make the officers in the cars reflect the community. To that end, they recruited women, African-Americans, Somalian, Hmong and gays. And we were better for it.

    But here is the thing, even though the press, like the staff of NEWSHOUR and other media outlets, reflects the demographics of America, it does not reflect the culture of America. There is almost no conservative representation. No wonder they do not know what the hell hit them.

    Now, you can cast Trump supporters as “Breitbart winged monkeys” but come out to Lake Wobegon and look around. Out here we voted overwhelmingly for Trump, not because we are racist, sexist, homophobic winged monkeys but because of a host of reasons that one day maybe articulated within the cloistered halls of PBS and MPR…. but until then suffice it to say that it is not us who are uninformed.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I didn’t cast Trump supporters as Breitbart winged monkeys – I meant the coterie from ACTUAL Breitbart news, Bannon and his ilk who advised Trump.

      There are entire networks, radio stations and websites devoted to conservative thinking, but just like many of the media options that slant liberally, it’s closed circuit thinking – an echo chamber. This post was me attempting to improve my sources.

      As for voting for Trump, you’re right, I don’t understand it, but I don’t have to – he’s the President-Elect. The candidate you voted for won, so we don’t have to argue talking points. It’s all been done.

      A Trump win is painful to me, as he does not represent my values and I’m processing that as benignly as I can. If I can be a decent loser, then I expect people not to be sore winners.

      Liked by 3 people

      • When I wrote, “you can cast” I was thinking of a generic “you” but it did not come off that way. Sorry about that.

        There are entire networks, radio stations and websites devoted to conservative thinking, but just like many of the media options that slant liberally, it’s closed circuit thinking – an echo chamber.

        You are right and it is very bad for the country.

        My point about intellectually integrating the newsrooms, and they are extremely segregated, is the same argument for integrating all avenues of life. We benefit from multiple perspectives.

        Imagine a voice in the newsroom at the StarTribune or MPR that says, “Uh, hold on there.” They simply do not have that voice. It is not necessarily an echo chamber but journalism today is like white cops riding around in black neighborhoods. They might be well-meaning and respectful… but they will never truly understand the people who live there.

        Megan McCardle wrote a great article on this in her Bloomberg column last week: https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2016-10-27/bring-the-right-wing-into-the-mainstream-media

        Like

        • Thanks for that read. I almost fell down the comment hole, where very quickly, people were yelling at each other about racism. All I’m looking for is measured reporting, with a clear answer to the 5 Ws of journalism.

          I get your point, Greg, but I don’t see a concrete solution. Until corporate entities want to make nice or expand their consumer base, we’re on our own figuring out how to get information.

          Liked by 1 person

        • It is too bad that all too often tribal chest-thumpers dominate the comment sections.

          As for journalism, it goes much deeper than corporate decisions. The problem is rooted in the culture of journalism. Professions do have a culture, believe me, cops can tell you that…, so can teachers, plumbers, doctors, electricians and lawyers.

          There is a social aspect to many professions and if you just don’t fit the mold, it is hard to get in. It is why glass-ceilings are hard to crack and most professions work hard at recruiting women and minorities.

          Journalists are overwhelmingly liberal, multiple studies have confirmed this and the profession is getting more and more liberal because it is one of the few professions where you have to include your (written) opinions in your portfolio.

          But it is worse than that… The culture of journalism is steeped in liberal activism because journalism schools teach that there is something more to it than just telling it like it is, there is an ethos of comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable. It is an ethos that all too often leads to confusion about who is afflicted and who is comfortable.

          The solution is fairly simple and there is an excellent model to implement it. Journalism must integrated the same way, we integrated law enforcement, the trades and law. We must actively recruit and give preferential hiring to those who hold opinions that are widespread in the population but rare in the profession.

          Who knows, if we do this…. we might be able to save a few newspapers.

          Like

        • Interesting idea, but I’m not sure legally integrating based on partisanship is a workable plan because of all the subjective variables. Lying about what the journalist believes being right at the top of the list and figuring out what the majority of a population holds as opinions being another (because polls don’t mean jack). More to think about. Thanks Greg.

          Liked by 1 person

        • I don’t believe that the media can be legally compelled to diversify intellectually. But most diversity is not brought about by the threat of legal action – rather it is something that organizations do because it is the right thing to do, it generates good will and is good business. I would hope that the fact that journalists are held in lower popular esteem than lawyers would prompt them to act….. but then what have lawyers done. 🙂

          Liked by 2 people

  6. Thank you for this list. I find myself disappointed – in relation to almost any current event – with how little the people around me actually inform themselves with news sources beyond their cable channels. I think Al Jazeera is way underrated, so I’m very glad you included it, and I would add PolitiFact to your list. Thanks again!

    Like

    • Oh right – I forgot about Politifact, thanks for the reminder. I’ll have to add it. I can’t take all the fluff that gets inserted into news now and if they use Tweets in their news stories, I’m right off them. I think I have to be fair and point out that if most of us paid to subscribe to online sources like we would for a paper, the reporting staff would likely be more robust. It’s a bit of a quagmire right now.

      Like

    • Thanks. I’m not particularly proud of the fact that I spent a lot of time this year reading editorials that mostly supported my point of view and getting caught up in comment sections. Time to clear the shelf and restock with better sources!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I think this last year has been a time of self-reflection for me, too. When people challenged me over why I held particular beliefs, I had to contemplate over and over what the core basis for the belief was. I’ve been trying to form a list of core beliefs that I hold about the world and personal views. They sound odd at first blush, but, for example, one of the ones that I’ve concluded has been: I believe people should have the right to be assholes (jerks).

        I obviously don’t mean people should be able to break laws or beat people up willy nilly or w/e. But if we outlaw all bad behavior, then what does it even mean to be nice anymore? The contrast should be preserved. We should be able to have the option to legally be assholes… so that we can choose NOT to be one, and that that would be something worth celebrating. A person has a heart for the poor? Wonderful! Let their compassion fuel them personally to do great philanthropic work. I would be so happy to hear about people who had a heart for down-trodden people and became agents of change for them. I do not, however, want to hear about those people trying to force kindness upon other people who have no interest to be kind. Let one individual be and do kindness and let another have no interest in helping those poor people.

        (This is just one reason that I’m an advocate for small government, and big private entity personal responsibility/passion/drive/kindness.)

        Like

  7. I scrolled down through all the comments without reading them just so I could find this box and say, with all sincerity, good for you, I like the plan, and I hope you stick with it, it’s inspiring. Truly.

    Like

    • Thanks Walt. While I’m taking a break from the news completely for a few days. I think seeking out cleaner, uncluttered sources will be useful. Already I’ve started feeling better and not having to see anymore #$%@ pictures of politicians standing in front of an inordinate number of flags seems to be calming my inner beast.

      Like

  8. It is refreshing to see a positive action plan!
    We have a bit different election system in Canada, in that our Prime Minister is the leader of the party that wins the most seats. We don’t vote for that person directly. While the media likes to put the persona of the party leader under a microscope (and vilify them accordingly), I think our electorate is far more inclined to make a choice based on the overall party platform (liberal, conservative, etc) and the track records of the local candidates.
    I have to wonder how many people who voted for Trump were voting for the Republican platform, not the man…

    Like

    • Thanks, Margie. As easy as it is to focus on Trump, there is a concern when the party in office is also the majority party in congress. It means that our government only represents a single party and not all Americans, especially in a close election like this one.

      The strong focus on individuals was aggravating, as real issues were tabled during debates, so that we could listen to playground arguments about who’s worse. If people were voting on platform alone, I don’t believe this election would have ended in this result. But this is where we are and it is, despite the sense of helplessness, still up to us on how we proceed as a nation.

      Like

  9. Pingback: Fired Up, Part 2: Softening Perspective, Steeling Resolve | The Green Study

  10. Very impressive goals. Sadly, I was most taken with the chinchilla pictured rather than the lengthy (read weighty) list of news agencies. However, I do feel somewhat less Dunning and Kruger-esque for having read this article. That has to count for something!

    Like

  11. The DK effect is fascinating! I think I qualify as the second part. When my son was very young, I suspected that he was pretty smart, but didn’t know if that was wishful thinking on my part as his mother. Since then he has tested positive 2xs as gifted in math. The other day he told me he does long division in his head (he’s 11.) I’m very proud of him.
    Your list is a very good start. I keep thinking that if I was going to actively follow one individual (via social media etc.) it would be Noam Chompsky. He’s a retired linguist who spends most of his significant leisure time studying current events by reading multiple periodicals from all over the world and putting together the pieces of the puzzle that is the world stage. Perhaps you could provide a similar service on your blog! I’m sure everyone would appreciate that!!

    Like

    • Noam Chomsky is going to experience a resurgence in popularity, I imagine, since it has been suggested that he predicted an outcome like this in our country. I actually pulled “Understanding Power” off my shelf yesterday to read his institutional analysis of the media. Chomsky is great brain food…
      I think the age of the pundit and analysis has peaked after this last election. I am hoping that my blog does not become a running commentary on Trump’s presidency, but I know there will be plenty to be angry about.

      Like

      • Not Trump specifically, just putting the pieces together from all your sources to paint a coherent picture.

        Liked by 1 person

  12. I would also suggest a book that I thought was particularly inspiring. It’s called “Dare to Hope” by Jason West. I think the concepts in this book are well worth considering in trying to fix our broken system!

    Like

  13. An inspiration, as always! I’ve been amazed how hard it is to find unbiased news as I try to argue against the conspiracy theorists. They’ve just vanished! BBC, Reuters & NPR are my go-tos. I like the idea of getting engaged in local politics, too.Thanks!

    Like

    • Conspiracy theorists are just too hard to talk to – so much of what they put forth is irrational and non-factual, that it can only be emotional. It’s hard to argue with how someone “feels” about the news.

      I just finished writing a letter to my representative, Keith Ellison, who is now being recommended as the new DNC chair. It’s a start. I want to make connections and make my voice heard.

      Like

      • Good for you! I spent so many years lobbying that I tended to set that type of advocacy aside. But we need it all right now. Marching in the streets feels right for me these days. I’m going to a rally tomorrow to stand against the Dakota pipeline on Native American sacred lands. There is so much work to do!

        Like

  14. One good thing that has come out of this for me as well is discovering some journalists that can look at things in contexts.
    Whether it be historical or multi dimentional.
    You may like to check out:
    Jonathon Freeland @ jonathanfreeland.com
    Tobias Stone @ medium.com
    John Foot @ The Guardian

    All the best with keeping informed! I try to be, and enjoy discovering new sources of info, even if its to say Nope, not for me.

    Like

  15. Pingback: Fired Up, Part 3: Mitigating Despair | The Green Study

  16. Good sources, Michelle, if I may say so. My problem now is that I’m pretty much reduced to NPR and other reliable online versions of print publications. I love the PBS Newshour, but I simply can’t look at Donald Trump right now. The thought of the man stomping around the White House takes me to an unproductive, angry place. And speaking of anger, I remember something Pema said. Basically, there may be some worth in being motivated by anger, but never by hatred. John

    Like

    • I’m not ready to dive back in, either. I can’t look at him or hear him without feeling enraged. I managed to read the transcript of his interview with Leslie Stahl and that was enough to send me off on another writing bender.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Pingback: Fired Up, Part 4: Screw It, I’m Going to Smile Anyway | The Green Study

  18. Pingback: Is It All a Crock? | A Year of Living Kindly

  19. Pingback: Imagine There’s No Politics | The Green Study

Share Your Thoughts

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: