The following is a chapter from my book Bruh, Read the News: A Teen Guide for Fighting Disinformation, One Critical Thinker at a Time.
As the saying goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Just like anything else in life, when it comes to reading the news, find what works for you and stick with it. If you’ve got the time to read the news in the morning, go for it. Maybe you prefer the evenings after school or your part-time job. Just keep this in mind: research suggests you should not watch the news for more than an hour a day as it’ll leave you depressed and deflated, and that’s the last thing I want this book to encourage.
Where to Read the News
Figure out where you’re going to read the news. It’s best to find a quiet place to concentrate, just like anytime you read. Maybe you prefer to read in bed, on the couch in your living room, or at the kitchen table when the dishwasher isn’t running. As long as you’ve got a fairly sanitary process and routine, bathrooms work also.
Not only should you pick a spot, but you also need to determine how you’ll read the news. I’m going to assume you prefer digital media. Will you read it on your laptop or desktop? In either case, create a bookmark folder in your browser for news sources. Compile around 10 trusted sources, with a good mix of the impartial or least biased, like Reuters, and the “highly factual” or at least “mostly factual” (according to MBFC), but with an obvious ideological stance, like CommonDreams.org for progressive news, and NationalReview.com for conservative commentary. The reason I suggest that you read from sources with an ideological stance is because by doing so, you’ll learn about the history, principles and values at the root of the movements on both sides of the political spectrum, as well as discover a lot of the double-speak, corruption and hypocrisy that straight news sources don’t always confront for fear of being labeled “biased” or partial to one side or another.
A Digital Alternative
Another great option is to buy an eReader. I use mine multiple times a day. Even in the evening when I’m sitting on the love-seat in the living room watching basketball and spending time with my wife, I’ve got the eReader beside me for catching up on an array of books and news articles. I recommend a Kobo eReader over Amazon Kindle for a few reasons that aren’t the concern of this book, but one worth mentioning is the fact that Kindle uses a proprietary file type, which means the eBooks from the Amazon store can only be loaded onto an Amazon device. That’s no good for me and a lot of consumers, which is why Kobo is a great alternative as it uses a universal eBook file type known as EPUB.
Besides the great convenience of reading all kinds of books on my Kobo eReader, it also is integrated with the Pocket app. The way it works is this: if I come across an interesting article on my work laptop or personal desktop, I’ll save it to my Pocket account, and then when I open my Kobo later on, the article will sync to the device and be formatted just like an eBook, making the reading experience far more enjoyable and convenient than if I were to read from my computer’s browser.
You can use this to your advantage when it comes to the news especially, and it’ll help you establish a workable habit in terms of becoming informed and remaining so on a regular basis. I suggest that you go to a few of the sites you added to your News bookmark folder and start small: save 3-4 articles to your Pocket account and read them when you’ve got free time later on in the day. There are even articles in major newspapers like the NY Times that’ll compile the most important news of the day for you in one article. Even just reading 10 minutes a day this way will improve your awareness of public policy and the world around you.
You’ll likely miss a day here and there in this hectic world we live in, but don’t worry. The key is to build the habit, and make those “miss days” more and more unlikely. There are Americans walking around right now who, astoundingly, can’t name the vice president, who can’t name the number of justices on the Supreme Court and haven’t read a serious article in a newspaper or magazine in years. Should we really scratch our heads wondering why it feels like the world is collapsing all around us as we scroll through our timelines on social media?
Full disclosure: if you purchase an eReader or related accessories through the link above, I earn a small commission.