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Question #88962 posted on 02/13/2017 11:40 p.m.

Dear 100 Hour Board,

I've got a pretty busy schedule, but I'm recognizing that I need to do a better job at updating myself on current events. I always hear about things through facebook, which I'm realizing isn't wise. I'm thinking about dedicating like ten minutes a day to this goal of becoming a more informed person. What would be the best way of going about this? What websites should I visit to get a good snapshot of local, national, and world news?

On a different note, one barrier that has kept me from being involved is feeling like everything I read has a bias. It seems overwhelming to research in-depth the different opinions on the issue. I literally don't even know how. This, coupled with my ignorance in the realms of politics, has left me feeling too overwhelmed to try. I think I have remained uninvolved in the past because I have a fear that my ignorance will lead me to read things that are biased and take them as fact because I don't know any better. My mantra has been "I don't know how to research the issues in a complete and thorough way, so I'll just avoid them so that I don't receive faulty information." I know it's dumb, but it's a problem I have.

I'd like to spend a little time researching certain topics that interest me (abortion, global warming, immigration issues, etc). Where do I go to learn about these things? How can I make sure to get both sides of the story?

This is sort of a complicated question. I appreciate your help.

-Trying to Be Informed


Dear you,

This Washington Post article has a good breakdown from the Pew Research Center on which news sources are consumed by which people on the political spectrum. This isn't necessarily a perfect way of measuring bias, but it's a reasonably good source. The problem, as you'll probably notice, is there's not a lot of stuff in the middle. The Wall Street Journal is close, but it has a pretty strict paywall and you'd probably need to pay for a subscription for it to be your primary source of news.

I've never used Google News, but my guess is that it would integrate well into your devices and be pretty convenient. It's worth noting that Google simply pulls up stories from various news outlets, though, so the individual stories might be biased. If it has the usual optimization algorithms that Google tends to use, you might end up with a bit of an echo chamber over time.

The Hill isn't on this chart, but it's a bit more right-leaning than most of the news sources I consume (I definitely lean left on my news sources, partly because I'm liberal and partly because I'm too cheap to pay for The Wall Street Journal and I like my news in-depth, which leaves me with few centrist options). My guess is if it's more right-leaning than what I usually read, but is still something I like, it's probbbbbbably center-ish.

For researching issues, it's best to go straight to primary sources or experts, in my opinion. For social and political issues, I'd start by checking the Pew Research Center. NASA has an entire section of their website devoted to climate change. For medical issues, the CDC, Mayo Clinic, and similar sites are good. If you're interested in issues relating to education policy, The Chronicle of Higher Education is a great site to keep up with.

Immigration is a bit tricky to research. I'd start with Pew. If you don't find what you're looking for, I would compare and contrast the information you find on the Center for American Progress (a liberal think tank) and The Heritage Foundation (a conservative think tank). In fact, this is probably a decent approach for a lot of political issues.


posted on 02/14/2017 8:17 a.m.
It is important to remember that political bias in writing doesn't necessarily equate to the presence, or lack, of cold hard facts. For example, while the New York Times is more liberally favored especially in its opinion columns, historically it has a very good reputation for journalistic integrity in the coverage of major news events.

It's easy to believe that simply reading sources on both sides of the spectrum will solve the problem of bias, but not all sources are created equal--some sites tend to be more clickbait opinion blogs rather than legitimate news sources, so at that point you're essentially comparing an apple to an orange. If you're in doubt about the facts of a particular story, check and see if other vetted news sites (not opinion sites) have reported similarly.
posted on 02/15/2017 10:44 a.m.
On the expensive of staying caught up:
-New York Times is available for free in the HBLL and the Kennedy Center
-many Econ 110 students have to pay for a subscription to the Wall Street Journal, so maybe ask around and you can share one with someone?
-most newspaper sites require you to get a subscription to read more than x articles per month)--- so I read from different newspapers every week and then I hear far left and far right ;)