by Christopher Berger
Like it or not, we’re faced with the need to curate our sources of information. In one sense, we are blessed with innumerable, easily accessed media for news. But as anyone who has spent any time online will know, an overwhelming majority of it is, frankly, garbage. We are therefore compelled to be selective. Twitter and Facebook are good cases in point that allow us to curate where we’re getting notifications from. But the caveat is that our carefully crafted news feeds can easily become echo chambers, self-flattering affirmations of whatever we already believe or want to be true.
People often ask where and how I get my news. I’m lucky because, in part, my job takes care of the lion’s share of the work. Part of my daily routine requires me to do a media scan of certain important news sources each morning, so I’ve got a leg up on knowing what’s going on in the world by the time I get around to reading for my own curiosity. Standard sources for this task are what you might expect: Edmonton Journal, Calgary Herald, Globe and Mail, National Post, Toronto Star, Ottawa Citizen, CBC, and Global News – the last two are especially good for moment-to-moment updates.
These do a reasonably thorough job of covering the local municipal, provincial, and federal news items, with a smattering of international news conveyed in a Canadian context. And they also sample from an adequate range of the saner parts of the political spectrum, from the National Post on the right-leaning side to the more left-leaning Toronto Star. (Rule #1 of news curation: don’t shut out sources based on any partisan differences you may have – to the contrary, seek out conflicting viewpoints.)
Internationally, I go first and foremost with BBC and Al Jazeera for digital media, along with CNN for specifically American news. All the foregoing can be sampled in about as much depth as you’ll need day-to-day online or on TV.
But if you’re serious about staying in the know, subscriptions to print periodicals are indispensable. I realize I’m old-fashioned here, but I stand by this zealously. My own mail haul consists of the Economist, the Atlantic, the New York Review of Books, the London Review of Books, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and the Claremont Review of Books. As you might have surmised, I read a fair number of book reviews – as necessary as newspapers and magazines are, I’m a book guy, and discussions of books greatly help to inform what your next lengthy read should be.
Yet having said that, these titles also have excellent long-form essays on a plethora of topics from politics to entertainment to philosophy to literature to science. And to satisfy the latter topic, Scientific American, Quanta, and National Geographic are great sources (but you can get a lot of their content online, without a print subscription).
Finally, we’d be remiss to leave out literature. At first blush this might seem tangential to our primary concern here, namely staying up to date. I’d argue to the contrary that literary awareness is at least as important as conventional news for keeping informed on the state of the world and humankind. My go-to subscription here is the Paris Review, published quarterly in book-like volumes of poetry, short fiction, serialized long fiction, photo essays, visual art, and interviews with literary artists. Great Canadian-specific sources include Geist and The Fiddlehead, and, if you don’t want to commit to a subscription of either of these, you can frequently find the latest issues on the shelves of independent bookstores.
I doubt I manage to cover all my bases, but as a snapshot of a reading list compiled by someone who seeks to form something approximating a balanced and informed view of what’s going on in the world, hopefully this will suffice as a starter. What do you consider necessary reading for the curious and up-to-date wanderer? Sound off in the comments below.
News in a Hurry: I know, who’s got time for all that, right? Here’s a quick digest – a news protein shake if you will – for the busy Edmontonian. Consult it on your next commute to the board room, the lecture hall, or the bar. (Pro tip: you’ll notice there are some Twitter feeds here. It goes without saying for Twitter veterans, but you’ll have to sort through a lot of dross; best to familiarize yourself with which official news outlets have Twitter handles as they show up in the feed and simply follow them directly. Eventually you can dispense with #ableg and #cdnpoli altogether once you’ve got your more credible direct sources identified.)
– #ableg feed on Twitter
– Ryan Jesperson’s radio show
– #cdnpoli Twitter feed
Still don’t know where to turn in all this? Just read The Wanderer, and chances are you’ll be covered.
Banner image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.