Great resources to keep up with the news
I often hear people complain about the news and how they feel that everything is so biased or sensational.
Below are some of the best media outlets or websites that I read and that help me stay up to date.
But first, a few pointers to help be aware of how to find the best ways to stay informed.
1. Print > TV
My main suggestion when trying to follow the news or currents trends is to realize that traditional print options are better than traditional TV options.
That is harder to differentiate now since we can read both online.
The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal — all of which started as traditional print outlets — are better sources of original news and content than CNN, MSNBC, or Fox News. The latter generally tend to be more shallow and less informative. (Generally, not always.)
USA Today is also a traditional print outlet. However, it is much more shallow than the three I mention above. It used to be popular because it was known for being fast, having lots of little charts, and being colorful. It was less known for being thorough and informative.
2. Paid content > unpaid content
The three sources of news I mentioned above all have paywalls or require payment if you want to continue to read them.
Many other newspapers or content providers have tried to do that but have failed.
The reason for this is because you really need outstanding and thorough content in order to be able to charge for it. Also, TV outlets generally target the masses more, whereas those newspapers have traditionally targeted more affluent, higher-income people.
Other good sources of places that offer good content that require payment include The Economist magazine and Harvard Business Review, among others. Harvard Business Review is not a news outlet, but it does a great job keeping up with current workforce trends and information.
3. Read opinion pieces
I wouldn’t have suggested this a few years ago. When I worked for the newspaper, I thought the opinion page just existed so that the people who worked at the newspaper could vent. I thought they were fun but offered little real value to the readers.
However, it eventually occurred to me that people who want to prove a point and use the written word to do so often do a more thorough job researching their point than disinterested reporters. Some of the best thought-out and researched pieces have come from opinion pieces.
Avoid watching pundits on TV, since they are often wrong and are are not as accountable for what they say. Stating one’s opinion via the written word generally requires much more accountability than speaking one’s mind.
Along those lines, read opinions you don’t agree with. One good way to start would be to read the editorials of both The New York Times and of The Wall Street Journal. Regardless of where you stand politically, you’ll be reading something you don’t agree with!
So here are my top sources of news:
The Wall Street Journal
This is the best source for up-to-date news on finance, economics, and corporate business. It’s well known as the gold standard in these areas. The news articles are among the least biased out there. It’s rare to find a mistake or misspelled word there.
Wall Street Journal Editorial Page and Opinion: Potomac Watch
I put this as a separate item because it is a separate product, even though it is part of The Wall Street Journal. Like any good newspaper, the editorial/opinion portion is separate from the news portion.
The editorial page often goes against what we consider the groupthink of the mainstream media, and it does so in a way that’s very hard to argue against.
If you’re tired of the groupthink that often goes on in the media, go to The Wall Street Journal Opinion Page or listen to the Potomac Watch podcast.
If you don’t want to spend money on reading The Wall Street Journal Opinion page, then download the podcast “WSJ Opinion: Potomac Watch.”
Anyone who thinks that intellectual conservatism is dead has evidently been missing The Wall Street Journal’s Opinion Page, which has withstood the test of time.
The New York Times
The New York Times is the gold standard among general national reporting and definitely overseas reporting. Whenever I want to truly understand what’s going on in the world, I read The New York Times.
Unfortunately, in recent years The New York Times has shown a lot of bias. It admitted briefly after the 2016 election that is had been out of touch with much of America.
Then a few months later, The Times eliminated the position of the Public Editor, a position that was created to offer greater accountability following some scandals in 2003 about Jayson Blair, a reporter who blatantly plagiarized and made up stories.
So although The New York Times has had its own credibility problems over the years, no news organization is perfect.
The Times has also ran some excellent and tough investigative pieces on both sides of the political aisle.
Although it certainly has a liberal bias, it was The Times that broke the story about the sexual assault allegations about Harvey Weinstein, the Uranium One story that made Hillary Clinton look bad, and the devastating story about Hillary Clinton’s poor practice using a private email server.
I would also to a lesser degree recommend The Washington Post. However, much of what I said about The New York Times can be said about The Washington Post. It also has a liberal bias but outstanding investigative pieces and outstanding reporting. But the gold standard here is The New York Times. The Washington Post will probably always remain a distant second.
Thomas Sowell columns
Unfortunately economist Thomas Sowell has recently retired from his columns, but thankfully you can find much of his writing for free.
If you ever read about a news topic that is in the public discourse about politics or economics and don’t really understand it completely, Google “Thomas Sowell” and whatever the topic is.
Sowell is one of the best communicators about economics and how politicians affect economics than anyone else we know. He explains complex topics quickly in ways that ordinary people can understand. One of his main mentors was the great economist Milton Friedman, also a great communicator.
Fivethiryeight.com does not really provide original content nor is it probably ever known for going to have breaking or exhaustive stories.
It does a good job showing polls and statistics about politics and sports.
It also has a liberal bias, although it tries to hide it.
Ultimately, Fivethirtyeight.com is basically just entertainment for people who like statistics.
If you don’t want to pay for The New York Times or The Wall Street Journal but still want to follow national politics closely, then I suggest you follow TheHill.com.
It offers a good breakdown of national politics. I used to read Politico instead, but it became too liberal, and one could tell just by the headlines they didn’t like Republicans and tried to make them look bad.
Breitbart.com and HuffPost.com
OK, neither of these offer the quality that The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal offer. Let’s get that out of the way immediately.
I will start by saying you don’t need to spend as much time on these sites, but there is some value to them. I will need to explain a bit, though.
One negative about them is that they will most certainly get you stirred up if you care about politics at all. HuffPost.com considers conservatives the enemy, and Breitbart.com considers liberals the enemy.
Both of these websites present news articles with a blatant bias. In a way, you have to admire that, because they don’t claim to be objective.
Remember how I said above that you should read opinion pieces? These sites mix news and opinion.
Do you want to know the reasoning behind a certain political belief? If you want to understand how liberals think, go to HuffPost.com. If you want to understand how certain conservative think, go to Breitbart.com.
HuffPost.com does several things better. While Breitbart is almost all about politics, HuffPost.com will actual show you cute videos of children saying funny things and cover celebrities and other lifestyle type news. (It can have the same addicting “value” that a silly Youtube cat video can have.) It is also laid out much better aesthetically.
Also, HuffPost.com seems to appeal to liberals in general, whereas Breitbart is more niche and appeals more to rabid conservatives or anti-establishment conservatives. Fox News is a better place for more traditional, establishment conservatives, while Breitbart is more for national economists, and anti-establishment.
My point in talking about these two sites so much is this: if you want to find out what either political side really believes about the hot political talking point of the day, go to these two sites. I promise they won’t hold back.
Albert Mohler’s The Briefing
When I first heard about Albert Mohler’s daily podcast The Briefing and heard how it focused on current news topics from a Christian perspective, I have to admit I mentally placed it into a stereotype.
I am a Christian, and I worked in the newspaper industry, and the two don’t seem to mesh that well.
Usually when I see a Christian column about a current day news topic, the template seems the same: talk about the news item in general strokes, shift to some Bible verses without much analysis, throw in a cliche, then neatly wrap up the column by preaching a bit at your audience in 600 words or less. Microwave-style Christian devotional is served.
That’s not the case with The Briefing. Albert Mohler does not preach at the audience, and he does not sensationalize the news with scare tactics. His approach is more cerebral than emotional, he digs deep, and he’s thorough. He talks quickly, so make sure to keep up. He manages to talk about the day’s top stories that everyone is talking about, and he manages to delve deep into stories that should concern Christians.
It’s especially important to note the way Mohler, the president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, manages to thoroughly talk about the main topics of concern to Christians.
The media does a very poor job covering religion. Part of this is because it wants to avoid any semblance of being religious itself.
But by so ignoring religion it missed major topics in the news. Religion is much more important to many people than politics, economics, and even work.
Here are a couple of examples in which Mohler tackles some moral or religious topics in ways the media tends to avoid. One great example of this is his podcast about “The moral vocabulary of pure evil in the aftermath of Las Vegas.” Another good one is his podcast about “What the history of Halloween tells us about the resurgence of paganism.”
He does not tackle anything in a cliched manner.
The Ben Shapiro Podcast
Many think of Ben Shapiro as being a conservative, but his podcast is surprisingly balanced.
Like Mohler, Shapiro also talks very rapidly. Also like Mohler, Shapiro’s discussions are full of well thought out content, which makes it especially impressive that he talks rapidly.
Shapiro’s analysis of current-day matters is well thought out. He does not take a partisan stand regardless of the issue. If he feels that conservatives are wrong about something, he’ll state it. He is a stark contrast to people like Milo Yiannopoulos or Sean Hannity, who seem to blindly agree with President Donald Trump regardless of the issue.
Shapiro will explain matters of economics. He actually explains issues and ideas and doesn’t get bogged down with personality fights or making sure he’s wearing his “red” Republican jersey.
Take, for example, the issue of Net Neutrality. In his podcast “Is It The End of the Internet?” he actually explains the issue and presents both sides. And he actually presents both sides better than many objective new sources do!
You wouldn’t think that he would be interesting in presenting both issues, but he does. He ultimately states what his opinion is, but after making sure to present both sides.