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trying to become current with world events


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I'd like to know a lot more about world events, politics, etc, than I do now. But I find the news really overwhelming. I think it's because the news seems to scattered to me - I don't have any coherent understanding of "how things work" to be able to fit news stories into. I'm not sure if I'm explaining this well...I feel bombarded with stories when I open up CNN or The Economist or the local papers and it seems like too much all at once because I don't have a big picture to relate them too. Reading lots of stories doesn't seem to help me build up a big picture.

Does anyone else feel this way? Any suggestions?

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I've found lots of news confusing from time to time, it's a bit like tuning into a soap opera when you haven't watched it for ages. So many stories assume that those watching were taking notice and understanding the previous day's news, last week's news, anything that happened in the last year, and so on. I try to focus on one story, usually the top story, then do a little research of my own to "place" it and work out what, why, who, where, when and how. I look up references to things on wikipedia, ask about them on q&a sites, look up previous stories that are relevant on google. I'm slowly building up more of an understanding. I tend to avoid watching the regular news on TV when I'm not well, it just makes me angry and impatient. I argue back at the TV and drive my hubby crazy! I look at stuff online instead. Anyhow, it's easy to be overwhelmed and you're not alone! Hope you find a way to make sense of it all.

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I'm completely addicted to NPR.

ditto. completely, positively, overwhelmingly addicted to npr. In order to face the world in the morning, I turn on NPR, make my coffee and read the newspaper.

I skip stories in the newspaper that are too depressing. though for some reason local crime stuff I can handle, not international refugee stories, war, etc.

you can also download fav stories (podcasts) from npr on your computer, ipod if you miss them on the radio.

you can create on your web browser a link that only shows a few lines from news/gossip sites you pick (cnn, huffington post, whatever). It is called an RSS feed. I can explain how to do it if you'd like. It's nice because you only have to look at 1 or 2 lines and then you can pick the story you want to read more about.

try a weekly news magazine, like Time, or Parade, or local newspaper. Print, I think, is a bit easier to handle than the web. Usually more focused, less extraneous info.

I would just pick out one story at a time. One that jumps out at you. Little by little your understanding will grow.

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I'm with Susan on NPR. I don't watch TV, so my kitchen radio is tuned to NPR. In addition to straight news programs, they have features on specific issues, and call-in shows on most of the local affiliates. (NPR is National Public Radio, in case you're not familiar with it).

I come from a family of newspaper readers, so I read a local paper every day--it has some national and international news. Then I read the NY Times 3 or 4 times a week, especially on Sunday. Twice a week, our county has a local rag that I read to catch up on local news.

olga

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I'm not a big fan of talk radio because it makes my eyes glaze over, but I do like the magazine (and it's online) The Economist. I find it to be fairly non bias *and* it helped me with my "big picture" problem.

I also had that difficulty with feeling overwhelmed with the news (not to mention getting enraged with the bias and idiocy in *every single* newscast!!! grrr. ) So I stopped reading the newspaper and stopped watching the news because I just couldn't keep up with it all.

I've heard a lot of good things about NPR, but as I said, talk radio just makes my eyes glaze over, but The Economist (when I could afford it) helps. Most of the stories are online and can be read through RSS, but I loved the magazine itself, and it's weekly. But it's expensive.

There are also a few somewhat reliable online resources out there I like this site for keeping up with the literary world and I get a RSS feed from select sections of a few national newspapers (I love Google Reader). Overall, but picking and chosing what I read it helps me to put together the "big picture" and with the Google Reader, I only get the headlines and summary of each story so if I don't want to read it, I don't have to. If I think it's worth reading - well, then it's there for me to read.

Anyway, I hope all of that helped. I do know what you're talking about with the big picture. Me, I have come to worry about what's in my little world, and have a vague notion about what's going on "out there" so I don't sound like a complete idiot when holding a conversation. Other than that, it's just what's going on 'round here... the rest of the world can fend for itself. I've got too much stuff to worry about on my own.

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This may sound crazy (heh), but have you ever watched "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" on Comedy Central?

He and his writers talk about relevant world events in a way that, I think, is very accessible. Yes, its funny, but you really do get good info from the show. Same for The Colbert Report.

They aren't "in your face" , but you're still getting the basics of what's going on in the world.

My fave new source, like a lot of other posters, is NPR.

Peace,

Phoenix

PS: I lurve your avatar.

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I love NPR too. One nice thing about it is that you can gradually sort of form a big picture on your own just by taking in everything you listen to - and since you can listen while doing other things, you can get greater exposure than if you have to sit down and read something. So the first time you hear about Gaza or Sudan or bailouts or whatever, it might go over your head, but over time, with repetition and little installments of everything, you'll become more informed, and it will make more sense.

Oh, and when you get sick of trying to be an informed citizen, there's always Car Talk! ;)

And if you're up to reading, I really really love the Economist.

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NPR is good. The Daily Show is good. Picking a topical area in the press to focus on for a while helps, too. For example, following the White House transition keeps you are up to speed on who's who in the new Administration, but also sets you up to more easily follow other news topics in the future since you'd know the US players. I wish I could get myself to focus on doing these things!

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I used to listen to NPR a lot. Lately I've only been watching about 10 minutes of local news to see what the weather is going to be like and to make sure the world hasn't blown up or anything. Other than that, I just check my ISP's home page and read whatever looks interesting.

I guess I just took a break after all the elections stuff.

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This may sound crazy (heh), but have you ever watched "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" on Comedy Central?

I was just thinking about how to answer this same question somewhere else a few days ago, and that's what I came up with, too. It's condensed, it's clever, and even if you have no idea what happened that day, they tend to make it so you can pick up what they're talking about from context. You won't get anything in-depth from them, but it's an entertaining way to stay generally up to date on the big picture and get a sense of what might be looking into more on your own. Now I just have to get back in the habit of watching it myself...

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I log onto google news and scan the frontpage. Once you start doing that you will slowly start to pick up on what is happening.

I also subscribe to blogs from aid workers etc in the countries that i'm most interested in, sometimes they aren't covered in mainstream media but I like to know whats going on. Also checking updates from human rights watch is a good idea too.

It's important to know what's going on, because it's interesting and makes us more educated people but mostly because it makes nations accountable for their actions and lessens the risk of human rights abuse.

Stopping before I continue on a full rant about Democratic Republic of Congo and Nth Uganda...

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Talk radio does not work very well for me but I should start watching the Daily Show again. (Jon Stewart's laugh drives me up the wall, and it's not as funny as the Colbert Report so I've been watching that instead...)

I don't have much success at gradually building up a big picture from individual stories. This has been a major issue for me with work training. My academic courses were much better at explaining what everything was about before delving into the details, but my work courses just give the details as though I already knew what they meant and why they mattered, so it winds up being a massive rote memorization activity and I am failing that training, which is intensely frustrating to me. I want to be be able to just listen and have things make sense gradually but I am not good at it and it is so unpleasant that I don't do it.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Since I live at home right now I get the amenity of sat-tv. I watch Link Tv a lot-and I believe they put all their stuff up online-free if you've got a broadband connection.

Foreign news seems to be better in general at explaining context. American news is deliberately pitched at a sixth-grade level, I seem to remember hearing.

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I didn't get a chance to read everyone's suggestions (sorry! I hate that.) but I did see the BBC mentioned and totally agree:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/

They DO have a lot of articles, but when you read about something that you need background on, there's almost always a bunch of information and related articles or background/people/context/history on the right side of the article. It makes stuff with a huge history (uh, Israel/Palestine anyone?) a LOT easier to handle and figure out.

They are also home of the daily ONE MINUTE WORLD NEWS video clip ;)

it's usually pretty helpful- if nothing else it tells you major headlines that you can then look into with more detail if you're interested. hths, m

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  • 1 month later...

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