Politics has been crazy and people are more interested than ever in the news and what is going on in the world. As a millennial who never cared that much before, I have to admit that I am one of these people. Though I am much more interested in keeping up with news now than I used to be, I often struggle with feeling overwhelmed by the constant influx of information I need to keep up with.
Though if you stop listening, watching, and reading it, you can’t follow conversations about the world you live in and you struggle to articulate opinions. I don’t believe the solution to news overwhelm is to stop consuming news altogether. The solution is to find a balance that works for you.
So, if you’re like me and want to be able to hold a conversation about what’s going on in the world, but don’t want it to consume your day, here are some good options that work for me.
Listen to the NPR Politics Podcast
For political news, I listen to the NPR Politics podcast. The episodes are typically about 25 minutes, which is perfect for my work commute. They do weekly roundups of the political news for the week in addition to coverage of any significant political events, which there has been a lot of lately.
Since it’s a podcast, you’ll typically get the news updates a little later, but they’re pretty good about publishing the episode the morning after the event happens. It’s timely and informative. They do a good job being fairly unbiased and often have recaps and clips of actual speeches given.
Listen to The Daily or Up First Podcasts
On the podcast note, I have to recommend daily morning news podcasts that give you short 10-20 minute news on only what you need to know. They’re super digestible and something that anyone can commit to keeping up with, because we can all spare ten minutes. If you’re interested in knowing more but not committed enough to listen to (slightly) lengthier podcasts like the NPR Politics one, these are good options. Plus, you’ll know what’s up every morning before you even get to work.
Follow your favorite news outlets on Facebook
Only select a few of the best news outlets. I would recommend one or two that cover your country, one that covers world news, and one that is local to your city.
Remember to engage with the news outlets if you want to see them in your feed. But on the flip side, unfollow if it begins to overwhelm you. I periodically will go through and unfollow every media outlet that is no longer serving me. You want to fill your feeds with positivity, especially if you’re attempting to spend less time on social media. Use your social media time purposefully and be ruthless about who gets to capture your attention every day.
Mute people who post too much. Seriously. There’s no time for that.
Sign up for TheSkimm Email Newsletter
I recommend incorporating news into your routine in a way that brings you joy. For me, that is through TheSkimm. I almost always read through TheSkimm in the mornings, whether it’s in my bed with my cold brew coffee or in the elevator on my way to the office. It’s an email newsletter that gives you brief summaries of the news on each week day morning, so you know the bits of information that you need to know. It’s written in a very witty and fun way, which makes it an entertaining read, but you still learn a lot. It includes just a bit of pop culture news too, which is always fun.
Check Facebook or Twitter trending topics a few times per day
I recommend checking the trending news sections only a few times per day.
I tend to stick to the headlines and brief summaries when it comes to social media trending topics. If I find something particularly interesting or if something big is happening, I’ll click through and read an article for more information.
Headlines with a brief description can give you a decent idea about what’s going on and sometimes that is enough. I definitely don’t take trending topics and headlines too seriously; they certainly aren’t always what they seem. But when you just want a very quick rundown of what’s up, I find that there is always a good summary of everything going on in the Facebook trending section.
There are so many headlines on any given day and it’s too easy to spend hours clicking through articles. So, stick to a certain amount of time each morning and evening where you catch up briefly and then exit out after ten minutes or less. If you struggle with spending too much time there, put a timer on your phone for ten minutes and close your browser when it goes off.
Make sure your news sources are credible and check for biased and fake news
Follow credible sources and use your common sense to see the bias.
You have to go in knowing that everything you read has bias, because everyone has their opinions that affect the way that they write about a topic. Use your intuition and look for stories with solid reporting.
As much as Buzzfeed may be trending topic often and it probably blows up your Facebook feed, they are not a credible source. You can prefer to get your updates there, but go in knowing that you should validate that information elsewhere.
Here are a few questions you can ask yourself if you’re trying to determine whether something is legitimate:
Where are the facts / evidence to support bold claims?
Are multiple publications talking about this?
Where did they get that information from?
Who is the source?
Is there a byline?
It’s a red flag when there isn’t a byline for an article and a good indication that it isn’t true.
Stick to trusted news sources like The Washington Post, The New York Times, and CNN.
Consider reading from independent news sources
It’s important to think about where you’re getting your information and what the motives might be in giving you biased information. It’s a good idea to support and read from independent sources that aren’t controlled by giant corporations. There is a good list of independent news options here.
Remember, as much as we want to be informed, it’s also important that we stay sane so don’t worry about catching every single thing that’s on the news.
Let us know how you like to get your news in the comments section!