Do you ever feel like the world of the 24-hour newsfeed is making you dumber? Information overload is unavoidable, and the struggle is real, friends. Let’s talk about how to read the news and make a habit of being well-informed.
I read somewhere that there is more information in one issue of the New York Times than monks would read in a lifetime hundreds of years ago. Can I tell you where that statistic came from? No. I have read so many similar statistics that they all run together.
That said, I’m really trying to work on how I read and retain information. So today, I thought I’d share a few thoughts with you.
1. Find a few news sources you trust, and read two articles every day.
We used to subscribe to the physical versions of the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. However, we found the piles of daily papers became an overwhelming task to face. By using digital subscriptions, I can bookmark interesting headlines to read later when I have time to sit quietly and focus on them.
2. Don’t try to know everything. Try to learn a lot about the topics that really interest you.
There is a lot of news! But what do you actually care about? What do you feel affects you the most? Start by picking articles about those topics and then slowly add in the topics you find intimidating.
For example, I love to read about food–the science of it, stories about it, the politics of it. Food is something I like reading about, and I like discussing with people. So that’s one of the topics I focus on when I read the news. That way, it’s a “go-to” topic. One that I understand, have context for, and where I know some of the key players.
3. For every 3 articles you read about topics you know, pick one that makes you uncomfortable.
The middle east is an overwhelming news topic to dig into. There’s a lot of cultural history that plays into everything but would be impossible to explain in each article. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t read about it.
As you read articles that overwhelm you or make you feel uncomfortable, think of it as a learning experience. Try to parse out some of the key players and ideas to remember for future reading.
4. Pick something from the article that sparks your curiosity, then research it.
The only way to learn is to jump in. If you read something that sparks your curiosity, find out more about that topic. Sometimes there are actually organizations that can help you do this or even cultural figureheads that may be on social media. For instance, if you want to know more about the way women are treated around the world, I’d recommend following Chelsea Clinton on Twitter. She often links to articles from all over the web that have really enlightened my worldview.
5. When a person of interest uses a hashtag on Twitter, click on it.
While we’re on the topic of Chelsea Clinton’s Twitter account… When you see a hashtag of interest, click on it. Read what other people are saying. Learn what it’s about. Hashtags that are used by news organizations or political leaders can often lead you down a rabbit hole of discovery.
6. Don’t get all your news from one source.
Know that everything you read has it’s own slant. It’s written by someone with their own ideas. The style of the publication is targeted in it’s own unique way. There’s always an editorial slant affecting the way the information is presented.
Collect information from different sources so that you’re drawing your own conclusions. Make up your own mind. Think for yourself.
7. Tell your friends.
I have some friends that I often trade article links with. We’re interested in the same sorts of topics, but we also just like to be well-informed. I can make small-talk with just about anyone. But the people I’m drawn to the most challenge the way I think. It’s fun to read an article and then get a totally different take on it from someone you respect. Plus, it often leads to some lively discussions that stretch your brain cells in the best possible way.