34

I hope this is a valid question for this SE. At the heart of politics must be reporting of the political process, and in every country of whatever system, the reporting of politics is seen as very important.

I'm outside the USA, and would like to follow US political news much closer than I do - more detail, more analysis. But having not grown up in that country, I don't have a clue how to be sure I'm seeing either a reasonably balanced view, or multiple views that together are reasonably balanced. Whatever source one goes to, one side or the other will claim if it's not telling their story, it's "fake", and that's a big part of the political debacle.

I know generally SE isn't just for links to sources, and many people will have opinions. An ideal answer would probably list good places to begin or learn, and why the writer thinks they are good places - the attributes and positive features that make them so. I don't do social media so I'm more looking for traditional methods?

Tl;Dr - How can I, as an overseas resident, identify which sources are big or small, reputed or not (in different quarters), and overall able to meet my goal of good quality US political self-informing?

Updates:
I'm in the UK.

The BBC is easy but its scope and depth isn't that satisfactory. I feel more "meaty" US sources would have more in-depth follow-up, not just the kinds of "overview" level as carried by the BBC, and also it covers major stories only. Its enough to familiarise, but not in much depth really. A good orientation to US news, but not much more.

I know of a few US papers, but not most, nor how a person who's grown up with US media would intuitively place even the few I know about, nor how to avoid choosing sources that leave me by mistake in an echo chamber of my own making. I don't want purely extreme wild fringe, but I don't want just to match my own political views either. I want to "get" how mainstream both sides see things, I guess.

Part of what I'm after is 2 things within that main goal -

  1. To not shy away totally from the partisan views, for example to have at least some awareness how right/trump leaning or left-leaning media that isn't of an extreme kind, sees events, not just how a "neutral observer" sees them, because the US * is * that polarized.
  2. Not just get the "huge headline item" news that overseas sources like BBC and Al Jazeera would report, but the lesser, kinda 2nd tier, news, or more in-depth followup, that a US source might report, and the extra depth or articles a US paper would publish.

If I want to go further I can look up primary sources, but that's not often needed for my interest.

4
  • 5
    Where do you live, and with which country's press are you most familiar? In my case as a British person, I have my own favoured and respected media - newspapers such as, the Guardian, the Independent, journals such as the Economist, the New Statesman etc, and in broadcast journalism the BBC is top of my list. Hence I would tend to look to those in the US that are closest in character - such as the New York Times, which is in a loose editorial alliance with the Guardian, and the French daily - Le Monde. Hence NYT is the US daily in which I would place my initial trust.
    – WS2
    Jan 10 at 21:35
  • @WS2 I've updated the OP with some extra comment
    – Stilez
    Jan 11 at 4:05
  • I think this would be better titled as someone outside of the US though some of those sources are good for people living in the US as well.
    – Joe W
    Jan 11 at 4:21
  • Do you include the BBC World Service when considering the scope and depth?
    – JCRM
    Jan 13 at 11:35

12 Answers 12

33

It is impossible to be entirely objective in this. However some general themes are reasonable:

  • A mix of sources is likely to be more balance than a single source.
  • You should mix both Left and Right wing with fact/analysis/opinion.
  • You should be aware of the general bias of the source

To help you there is the Media bias chart. Now this is only one organisation's opinion of bias. And "unbiased" doesn't mean "better". For example, the weather channel scores highly because it doesn't report much on politics.

Similarly Reuters gives generally accurate, fact based reports. But doesn't do much analysis.

But this can help you find writing that you find interesting, analytical and informative, while being aware of the general tilt of the organisation that is producing it.

11
  • 3
    Comments deleted. This is not a place to tell us your personal opinions on news outlets which weren't even mentioned in this answer.
    – Philipp
    Jan 10 at 16:35
  • 4
    The linked media bias chart has The Weather Channel as a news organization. What? When I want to know about hurricane threats (I live a bit south of Houston), I'll go the The Weather Channel as my number one TV source. I also tune in to see the weather forecast for an upcoming weekend, or for the drive to work. But that is not "news". It is the weather. Jan 10 at 16:38
  • 2
    @DavidHammen The chart does not rate accuracy or reliability. It rates political leanings. There is nothing political about making inaccurate weather forecasts. Not unless the reporting make specific politicians responsible for the weather. (which would actually not be that inconceivable in the era of man-made climate change).
    – Philipp
    Jan 10 at 17:38
  • 12
    Of course the weather is news. It is about events that happen and that people want to know about. It's true that these events mainly occur because of natural factors, and not human actions, but they are still news, and it is absolutely possible to imagine politically slanted takes on weather news. "High temperatures are causing a wave of fires, but we must accept it as our punishment for sinfulness." "Hurricane X is going to hit the British Isles, but these storms have always occurred and human activity is irrelevant." "Extreme weather is more common, so make sure to recycle and drive less."
    – Obie 2.0
    Jan 10 at 22:11
  • 10
    @Philipp "There is nothing political about making inaccurate weather forecasts. Not unless the reporting make specific politicians responsible for the weather." Or the president claims that a hurricane will land in a state that the weather service says it won't land in. Jan 11 at 4:41
17

The problem of left/right ratings given by various sources is threefold:

  1. They refer to the US definition of left right, which differs significantly from the definition in whichever country you're from.
  2. Their accuracy is not perfect, and they may be outdated.
  3. Being "in between" two ideologies (focus on equal coverage and perceived fairness) and being unbiased (focus on finding and reporting truth) are 2 unrelated objectives, which are usually collapsed into one. That's on top of left/right being a one dimensional representation of a 20 dimensional space.

So what I do is I get to know sources and its authors over a long period of time (e.g. Washington Post's Thiessen writes to the right of Fox News, but nobody calls the Washington Post right leaning). An entry point is to start with international news sources (aljazeera, bbc, etc) that cover the US but also run stories about your native country, which makes it easier for you to place them within your personal political map.

2
  • 1
    international news may also be skewed. For an extreme example, North Korean (or even Iranian) media has extremely negative coverage of US. Use your own judgment too.
    – KingLogic
    Jan 11 at 2:53
  • 2
    @KingLogic But is North Korean news more negative about the Republicans or the Democrats? ;)
    – gerrit
    Jan 11 at 10:15
15

To add to the other answers, here's a media bias chart created by AllSides:

enter image description here

They run comparisons of current news from multiple perspectives on their tri-column news feed and Perspectives Blog. You can read more about their partners and funding here.

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  • 31
    This infographic is problematic because it doesn't take into account the journalist rigor of the source. This is noted but it needs to be included in the chart for the chart to be useful. Buzzfeed News is liberal but does ridgid fact checking. The Blaze is just propaganda with many articles with no factual basis. OAN being much worse in that regard. There are also far left sources that aren't rigorously fact checked, but again, you can't glean that from this chart.
    – jdf
    Jan 11 at 6:49
  • 3
    A similar chart for news rigor and factual correctness would be awesome.
    – mathmo
    Jan 11 at 11:21
  • 4
    The problem with such charts is that they present CNN opinion (or any other from that left column) and Fox News opinion as 2 sides of the same coin. Which is highly misleading, because they aren't.
    – Peter
    Jan 11 at 13:37
  • 3
    To demonstrate my point, the first story from Fox News opinion right now is titled: Liz Peek: Big Tech censors nation – here's how Republicans can fight back with the subtitle This is about stifling dissent from those who do not buy into the Left’s woke agenda. In contrast, the first story on CNN opinion right now is "The jarring, revealing video of Black men cleaning up the Capitol". The two examples serve well both to demonstrate that there is indeed a right/left bias, but they also demonstrate that there's a much greater and more important difference that goes far beyond bias.
    – Peter
    Jan 11 at 13:48
  • 7
    Terrible source. This info graphic blithely conflates opinion/commentary sources with journalistic sources. The failure of many channels to clearly distinguish the two is itself one of the primary contributors to poor and misleading media. Jan 11 at 16:13
11

This is genuinely hard to do. The Trump presidency has certainly polarized news reporting to the point where few US news outlets have any semblance of neutrality.

This is certainly true on the right side of things, with channels like Fox. But CNN, to take just one example, is not averse to embellishing the facts. To take the example of the "Covid hoax" in March, I listened to CNN which clearly was outraged, repeatedly claiming that Trump had called covid a hoax.

Tracking down the actual video on YouTube, it was, not unusually for Trump, rather unclear what he was going on about. "New hoax" could have been associated with covid itself (as CNN fumed). Or it may also have been seen as saying "look, they've got this new thing to bully me with after that Ukraine call". Looking at all the words in the sentences leading up to hoax (around 7:07 in the transcript) leaves it open to interpretation. CNN had preserved none of that ambiguity in its coverage.

Fox, I'll guess, had an entirely more charitable view on that statement.

So, Trump's presidency has moved channels to the right, but also more "in opposition to Trump". Which, if your world view prefers clear divisions, could mean "left".

Alternating between fully partisan channels, like Fox or Huffington Post, likely will just leave you confused. I wouldn't have painted CNN with that brush 4 years ago, but I would now hesitate to recommend them now as well.

Besides Reuters, as JamesK has recommended, I would aim to look at US news from the viewpoint of news organizations NOT based in that country and less likely to have picked a side.

The Economist is fairly well-weighed, but may not be to everyone's tastes and is certainly behind a paywall. DW.com, based in Germany, left-of-center, I think. Or the BBC, which is alo left-of-center, so you'd have to pick a right-of-center, moderate source to counterbalance them. WSJ, maybe? Can't think of too many moderate right-of-center news site based out of the US.

Also, keep in mind that "opposed to Trump" need not mean "partisan in general". There are cases where one viewpoint is objectively wrong and pretending otherwise serves little to inform people. We see this with "balanced and fair" coverage of global warming as well.

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  • 8
    Also important to keep in mind that "opposed to Trump" doesn't automatically imply "left-leaning": the Drudge Report, for example, is strongly anti-Trump, but also strongly right-wing.
    – Mark
    Jan 11 at 2:30
  • 1
    (I'm also appreciative of those first 6 words alone, acknowledging that this is genuinely hard to do)
    – Stilez
    Jan 11 at 4:16
  • 8
    "But CNN, to take just one example, is not averse to embellishing the facts. To take the example of the "Covid hoax" in March" That's not embellishing the facts. To embellish means to add. They didn't add anything. They simply failed to bend over backwards to present the most charitable interpretation. The fact of the matter is that Trump said "And this is their new hoax' immediately after claiming that Democrats were politicizing the coronavirus. Yes, we could interpret this as saying that the politicization of the coronavirus is a hoax, but that's quibbling. Jan 11 at 4:53
  • 4
    @Acccumulation You make of it what you want. I read the transcript and really couldn't tell either way. He came dangerously close to calling covid a hoax, and for any other politician that should have been the kiss of death anyway. But he did not unequivocally say it either, on that occasion. CNN however presented it as 100% for sure. That is just not what the transcript tells me. Who knows what he meant? CNN had IMHO a duty to be more circumspect in their reporting. My posting history hardly shows me as a big Trump fan, but that soured me on CNN, I'll just get my news elsewhere. Jan 11 at 8:13
  • 1
    @Acccumulation "but that's quibbling" How is it "quibbling"? It's the heart of the matter.
    – user76284
    Jan 11 at 22:11
8

It is important to understand bias when consuming media.

For example, 5 corporations, AT&T, Comcast, Disney, ViacomCBS, and Fox control 90% of our media. For this reason, both nominally Left and Right sources tend to have a pro-corporate bias.

For this reason, I prefer independent media such as the Grayzone. However, others have their own viewpoints and tend to favor media that agrees with their viewpoint. Whatever your politics, the important thing is to inform yourself about the ownership of the company, and the major funding sources.

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  • 15
    Can’t argue with that, but you should know that Max Blumenthal has his own biases, in this case strong pro-Russia and pro-China sentiments. So don’t think that just because someone is nominally “independent” that they aren’t pushing someone else’s viewpoints
    – divibisan
    Jan 10 at 20:34
  • Extremely helpful, to understand who the main media are!
    – Stilez
    Jan 11 at 10:04
6

News in general can be broken down into two categories:

  1. Facts. For example: "a group of people protesting the certification of votes for Joe Biden have entered the Capitol building".
  2. Opinion. For example: "the US is now a banana republic because our Congress is not safe" or "Its no big deal, there's no reason to panic as this was just a minor event".

What you want to do while reading the news is ignore opinions. Read the facts and facts alone, then make your own judgement of how to interpret them. If you suspect that an article is missing some key facts, go lookup a different source of information - ideally from the other "side". If you suspect a given fact is fake - see if you can find the original source or an independent corroboration. Now, you might argue that this is a lot of work and requires extensive knowledge of historical and current events, but unfortunately that's the only way you could possibly form an objective picture in your head.

Be especially careful about opinions presented as facts. For example, "President Trump called for the protestors to storm the Capitol" is an opinion dressed up as a fact. To learn the facts, read the full transcript of his actual speech and then come to your own conclusions.

6
  • I was going to answer that it's a giant gish gallop, but you've basically done it already.
    – frеdsbend
    Jan 11 at 7:42
  • 3
    This is an entirely too simple presentation. What editors do is choose what to report on. By choosing what facts I present to you and what facts I do not, I can, without lying, present an entirely biased view of the world.
    – gerrit
    Jan 11 at 10:17
  • 1
    @gerrit the purpose of reading facts is to build a coherent model of the world in your mind. Then if you spot gaps in the model, you look for further data. Jan 11 at 10:38
  • 2
    @JonathanReez To read facts, I need to have a journalistic source in the first place. Whether they choose to report on environmental protests in Alaska, soup kitchens in Alabama, or crime committed by undocumented migrants, will lead to an entirely different model. The number of potential facts is virtually infinite, certainly far too large to take on all. It's the job of a journalist to filter the facts that matter. That filtering is inherently subjective, so you get a subjective image even if you only ever read "facts".
    – gerrit
    Jan 11 at 13:00
  • 1
    @JonathanReez I just checked Wikinews, and their top headline right now is Uruguayan Language Academy rejects FA sanction against Edinson Cavani as 'poverty of cultural and linguistic knowledge'. The BBC News frontpage covers US politics, an Indonesian plane crash, an environmental disaster in Uganda, corruption in Guinea. Fox News covers US politics, an execution in Iran and (very far down) the Indonesian plane crash. Somewhere Wikinews fails to make the selection of importance that most journalists would.
    – gerrit
    Jan 11 at 13:06
4

AllSides is a US news aggregator that provides media bias ratings for multiple media outlets (over 800, they claim) and categorizes news articles based on the source's rating. You can use it to find a balanced opinion from the entire political spectrum for all the major stories.

There are several ways of using this resource:

  • you can browse topics and see news articles from different media sources related to this topic;
  • you can read stories (featured on the main page), with a short summary of what the differences in reporting are on each side, with a link to one news article per side (left, center, right);
  • you can browse all news (towards the bottom of the main page), categorised by the media bias of the source (left, center or right);
  • you can look up a media outlet and check out their media bias rating to be better equipped for reading it in the context of their bias.

You can read more about how they compute the ratings. Here's a small excerpt from the site:

AllSides uses multipartisan, scientific analysis to rate bias. Our methodology is scientific, but each individual will have a subjective opinion of the bias of any given outlet. We reflect the average view of Americans, not one individual.

We use multiple methods to rate media bias, including editorial reviews, blind bias surveys, independent reviews, and third party research.

Disclaimer: no affiliation, I just find this tool useful for my own purposes.

2
  • Interesting! Never heard of it!
    – Stilez
    Jan 11 at 3:57
  • 1
    Is their methodology completely public and their software completely open source?
    – gerrit
    Jan 11 at 12:56
3

Quick Primer

For a comprehensive overview of media bias, I concur that the Media Bias Chart is a helpful reference. However, we can cover a pretty large portion of US political media with just a few outlets:

Left-Leaning:

  • CNN
  • NYT
  • Washington Post

Centrist:

  • Reuters
  • AP

Right-Leaning:

  • WSJ
  • Forbes
  • The Hill

The most important strategy is to look for a given story across multiple outlets. If it only shows up on one side, you should be skeptical and probably wait for more reporting.

Google News will actually give you a pretty broad range of sources from both sides...if you click through both sides. Like all social media services, it will feed you the diet you want, so if you just click through stories on one side, it will bias its output in that way. Of course, it will also show you plenty of stories from Fox News, Al Jazeera, RT, and Daily Beast. Recognizing which of these are lower-quality sensationalist/echo chamber/propaganda channels takes time and research.

If you just stick to the 8 outlets above, I claim you will see at least 80% of popular trending political news stories, and get a decently balanced perspective. Once you get comfortable with those, you can take a look at the other sites and see how their reporting compares to get a feel for the US political spectrum and where different media tends to locate thereon.

5
  • This is pretty helpful. I've updated the OP with some more specific comment rather than add it as a comment here.
    – Stilez
    Jan 11 at 4:05
  • Lots of journalisms consists not of pure news reporting, but of backgrounds. If the New York Times have an article portraying a week in the life of a poor single parent trying to make ends meet in the covid-19 pandemic and the same portrait does not end up in the Wall Street Journal, should I be skeptical of the NYT article? I don't think so.
    – gerrit
    Jan 11 at 11:07
  • @gerrit that's not a current political event. I think the OP can use common sense here. Jan 11 at 18:27
  • +1 because you cover a pretty balanced set of reputable sources, all of which can believably claim to at least attempt to provide fact based and unbiased reporting.
    – Peter
    Jan 11 at 19:11
  • @LawnmowerMan News is more than events. Call it a case study on the impact of political decisions if you prefer.
    – gerrit
    Jan 11 at 22:30
2

Selection is everything

All news reporting is biased. Any serious news outlet will clearly separate opinion from fact, but that is not the full story. Someone chooses what news to present to you and what they consider not relevant. Distrust any news source claiming to be fair, balanced, or unbiased. It's not possible.

  • Someone who happens to have a PhD says that covid or climate change is a hoax. Relevant?
  • Someone who happens to have a PhD says that the system of money creation is a scam to keep the poor poor. Relevant?
  • The son of a leftist mayor is caught drunk driving. Relevant?
  • A subset of people storming the parliament of a certain country happened to be wearing clothes with nazi references. Relevant?
  • 200 peace activists block a military base and are removed by force by the police. Relevant?
  • The US Green Party has primary elections. Relevant?

If I'm in control of what facts to present to you, I can colour your view without telling you a single lie. For a case study, consider Russia Today. Most of their factual reporting does not consist of outright lies, propaganda, or fake news, but what they choose to report does serve an agenda.

Automated selection

If you follow news by clicking through Youtube videos and social media headlines presented on your Fæcesbook feed, that news selection is decided by an algorithm.

Manual selection

If you follow news from classical media outlets in print, audio, or video, that news selection is decided collectively by a group of editors who may have been trained to do so. Depending on the media outlet, they may make this choice more or less independently and democratically or be completely bound by a government or corporate owner. Study the ownership before you decide what news sources to follow.

On top of that, quality news sources do not only report on news, but also investigate stories, thereby "creating" news. There too comes the choice of editors or journalists, even before the investigation starts (investigations cost money, so whoever is in charge of the money has influence here).

Conclusion

You cannot read all news. Therefore, it is inevitable that you depend on the choice of others on what news to present to you.

My advice: avoid all automated news selection — you don't know the algorithm behind those choices, and it may even reinforce what it shows you based on what you have click on before, enhancing your filter bubble. That means no Google News, Fæcesbook, Twitter, or Youtube.

Choose two or three well-reputed news sources. Pay for them. Quality journalism costs money. For depth, consider focussing on weekly or monthly magazines over daily newspapers, and avoid 24 hour news channels. There is plenty of choice from the left to the right. Others have listed specific names. They will choose different stories to focus on and different perspectives, but important news stories will get to you either way. I would recommend to avoid sources that are owned by large corporations, although if you stick to independent quality journalism you may get a left-of-center bias, as many quality journalists and editors choosing to work for independent media sources may have left-of-center ideas. Your mileage may vary.

2

Plenty of people have talked about media bias, etc., and offered various outlet classifications (either their own, or ones published from various sources). I won't repeat any of that.

What I'd want to stress is this: don't consume US news.

Really. The problem that the vast majority of these outlets face is that they are, essentially, purveyors of entertainment. There simply isn't that much in the way of novel occurrences (news) of truly national importance to sustain an always-on, 24-hour news network. There's plenty that is happening and worth considering; but it isn't new, it's in-depth analysis of the few events that are actually happening. But in-depth analysis is boring. Instead, most media--dominated by the 24-hour cable networks but followed by prestige print media--tends to fill that extra time with commentary, to increase emotional engagement. And the commentary cannot be terribly deep, because it has to be engaging for someone to pick up at any time, and ideally emotionally intense as well.

Where you will find more detail is in lots of local news sources reporting about local events. When you get down to that level of detail, across many different outlets, there's actually enough happening to generate a lot of content (although again, only a small slice of any particular outlet will be about events that are actually novel, as opposed to reactions to them, etc). If you read the 2-3 articles per day from a number of different local sources that are actually about new events or in-depth background reporting about ongoing events, you'll be much better informed than listening to three hours a day of people ranting on cable about (event that is dominating present news cycle).

The downside of this is that, well, you probably don't actually care about what's happening in suburban Ohio. But that's okay.

The other way to get actual news is to focus on outlets that are organized around particular topics. E.g. rights of Native peoples, or the transportation beat in (urban, rural, etc) environments. These stories are largely ignored by prestige media, because they require in-depth reporting that costs a lot and that most of the audience isn't motivated to keep up with. And again, you... may not really care.

But overall, you should be looking at media that is not targeted to a nationwide audience, either because of a local focus, or a subject matter focus, or being targeted toward a particular subgroup (media directed at minority groups often has radically different takes on major news and radically different selection of stories).

In other words, shop local.

1

In addition to what James K said, you can often find primary sources and come to your own conclusion. Obviously nobody has time to do this for every story, but if you find a topic interesting, try to find primary sources and form your own opinion. This is usually easiest for "media circus" type events like the Covington Catholic scandal or the McClosky standoff where there is easily-accessible video of most of the event.

3
  • 1
    Bear in mind, even finding what then news is, is not trivial. Everyone has heard of the capitol and inauguration, but the things that are still news, give more of a "feel", often aren't reported very visibly if you dont known how to find what might be news,and when you do, its not clear how big they are or just a media that wants to.look big. Just saying. Even finding what the news is, beyond huge stuff, isn't trivial.
    – Stilez
    Jan 10 at 19:03
  • 1
    @Stilez The thing is, I almost feel like it's essential to look for primary sources, because in many cases even the professionals aren't. The Covington Catholic scandal is the perfect example, nearly every "reputable" source got the story totally backwards at first because they just took twitter's word for it.
    – Ryan_L
    Jan 10 at 21:19
  • 2
    You're essentially saying to be your own journalist. That is not a feasible approach.
    – gerrit
    Jan 11 at 10:18
1

Contrary to JonathanReez's answer, I think opinion or contextualization can help form your own view on current events. I'd like to compare it to a criminal trial in the adversarial system which aims to ascertain the truth about what happened:

  • On the one hand, there are uncontested facts. In a criminal trial, that might be a video placing a defendant at the scene of the crime. In politics, they can be transcripts or tweets. What is said and tweeted is often verifiable because it's recorded.

  • On the other hand, there can be multiple interpretations of the facts. In a criminal trial, the prosecutor and the defendant's legal counsel use the uncontested facts to draw different conclusions. The same happens in politics, one group of pundits may argue the tweets and transcripts mean one thing, while another group will argue it means something completely different.

Just like in a legal court, it's helpful to hear both sides of a claim (or multifaceted issue as many political issues are more nuanced) to be able to form an opinion about what happened. It's actually an important concept in journalism as well, which is sometimes referred to as the right to reply. In Latin it's called Audi alteram partem (listen to the other side), though that's mostly used in legal contexts.

Even more so in politics, it's not just about who is right and who is wrong, or whether something is true or false. For example, a concept like political vision cannot be captured in facts alone. When policy choices are made, different actions will have different consequences and learning about the different arguments often involves opinion, prediction and contextualization.

An example of such a broader concept is foreign policy. What should be the main US foreign policy objectives for the next ten years? That's a political question, but there's no right or wrong answer. Nevertheless, hearing the arguments from different political view points helps understanding foreign policy and the politicians involved.


As a concrete answer to your question, I suggest a healthy mix of these three pillars:

  • Regular news outlets. This can be through an online news paper subscription, free news outlets (e.g. Politico) or by subscribing to their YouTube channels. This alone should give a good indication of the top stories, but it may seem like you're only scratching the surface unless you put in a lot of time to read many full articles and watch hours of broadcasting each week.

  • Following political actors on Twitter. In this case, I'm referring to politicians and government officials which provide short messages about (niche) political events. Even though these tweets can be more partisan, they can open the door to smaller issues that didn't make the front page. By following a large number of people covering the political spectrum, you don't have to get stuck in a partisan bubble.

  • Following political pundits on Twitter. In this case, I'm referring to people who are involved in politics, but not by holding a political office currently. For example, these can be individual journalists, people who have held office but have since moved to academia or private practice, academics, etc. Note that these groups are less constrained because they can write on a personal title with only their reputation at stake.

Keeping in mind that you want to hear both sides of the debate, you have to consider the dichotomy of the US political system. That means hearing both Democrats and Republicans, and including both left and right wing sources.

Even then, you can apply some personal scrutiny to the people you choose to follow. There are many serious people on either side of the political spectrum that are worth following, just like there are untrustworthy partisan hacks on every side of an issue.

If you're having trouble choosing who to follow, you can start by watching some discussions on cable TV (via YouTube) and judge them by their reasoning. If you like the way they argue even when challenged, regardless of whether you agree with their view points, they can be interesting to follow. And once you're following people, you can see who interacts with them and choose to follow them as well. As a general rule of thumb, you may want to stick to verified accounts so you have more control over who you're actually following.

In the end, I think there's definitely a benefit in adding some opinion into your news consumption. This should supplemental though, I don't recommend using Twitter and social media as your only source for news.

2
  • 1
    That might work generally, but as I said in the OP, I don't do twitter or other social media full stop. So I won't be following anyone, whether actors or pundits, which limits the applicability of the otherwise sensible suggestion.
    – Stilez
    Jan 11 at 11:28
  • @Stilez how about following those people without social media? I'm not sure about the US, but I know some columnists here send out newsletters (e.g. of their paywalled columns). Aside from that, podcasts could be an option to get more editorialized views. Those are especially useful for broader developments (e.g. geopolitics, Brexit) rather than small news items.
    – JJJ
    Jan 11 at 11:44

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