Most of us today own or have access to a computer and the internet. What does this mean for us? New ways of getting the news. More Americans now say they get their daily news online over print newspapers; about 40% internet to 35% newspapers (Doctor, 2010).

Our parents got the news Monday through Friday at 6:00PM, a limited amount of what an editor says they should know. For us, we have a vast expanse of nearly unlimited news from hundreds of different sources. And our generation is turning more to the internet for their news than ever before. We watch 60% less TV than our parents and we spend 600% more time online than they do (Doctor, 2010).

stock photo from http://sxc.hu

This means that we now create and control what news we can get. We have taken the place of the editor deciding what stories can fit into the hour time block of TV or the pages of the print edition.

It’s amazing that the amount of news that happens in the world every day always just exactly fits the newspaper.

-Jerry Seinfeld

By his humorous words, Seinfeld pointed out a major flaw of a limited amount of space and time in relation to news: there is no possible way to fit everything in. The essentially unlimited amount of space available to the internet and no constraints of time have changed the way the news is delivered to and received by us. So where do we go to get it? How do we manage and begin to organize and comprehend this vast amount of information being uploaded constantly?

We must become our own editors. We must find ways to categorize and sift through all the sources. I will give 4 examples of ways to read a balanced amount news efficiently. First you should make a list of  sources (yes, plural) that you would like to read, even those that you may not normally read or may disagree with. This is to pull from a variety of different places and viewpoints to get a balanced view of what is going on. No source will give an unbiased view of the news, so pulling from many different sides will help to even out your reading list.

Bookmarks/Surfing:

This may be the most time consuming way, but it may be the way that you are used to looking through the internet. You simply add the homepages of all your news list to a bookmark folder in your internet browser. When you are ready to read them just click through the bookmarks to each page. However this can be time consuming, I mean you are always on Facebook or Twitter, right?

Social Networking

Many local and national news organizations have Facebook and Twitter pages. This is just a short list of some popular sources:

Washington Post: https://www.facebook.com/washingtonpost and  http://twitter.com/washingtonpost

Fox News: https://www.facebook.com/FoxNews and http://twitter.com/foxnews

Local NBC station: https://www.facebook.com/NBC12News and  http://twitter.com/nbc12

So as you can see, the people who bring you news are in the places many of us access every day, possibly multiple times a day. If we “like” them on Facebook, then the info they post will pop up on our news feed (funny name, as it changes the popular definition of news, but more on that in another post possibly). Using social networking to find news is good as it puts it in front of us and gives us easy access, but we still rely on an editor of some sort to post selected stories onto the Facebook page. Let’s move to a different style of reading the news altogether.

Google News

http://news.google.com/

Google news is a service from Google that aggregates the internet’s news sources and combines them to provide the top stories. The site allows you to customize what country you are interested in viewing, as well as adding special topics that you are interested. The benefit of using Google News is that it pulls from many different sources from across the internet to provide a broad spectrum of news and opinions and viewpoints. Here is a list from Wikipedia on the top sources used by Google News in 2007: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_News#Sources_for_news

However, there is still one more service that can be tailored the most for you and your news viewing needs.

RSS Reader

News sites offer what is called an “RSS feed” that you can subscribe to that will update when they update it. The benefit of this would is the full customization and the streamlined process. I personally use Google reader. I have blogs and news site’s RSS feeds that are combined in my Reader for me to look at each day. http://www.google.com/reader

Here you can truly become your own editor. You can combine sources to create your very own news experience by subscribing to what you want, and organizing it into folders and categories. Most sources have multiple RSS feeds for different areas of the paper like sports, business, technology, arts, and sciences. Here is a list of the New York Times’ RSS feeds: http://www.nytimes.com/services/xml/rss/index.html

My recommendation: do what you feel is best for you. In this age of endless customization, create a place for you to go and read the news in a way that is comfortable to you. If it isn’t, then you will not go back there again. The idea of me being my own editor was scary at first, it’s a daunting task, but once it is set up and running, it will become a part of your normal routine. Once you have that routine, then you will become more informed and will be able to view stories of the world from multiple viewpoints, even those you don’t agree with.

Doctor, K. (2010). Newsonomics: Twelve new trends that wil shape the news you get. New York: St. Martin’s Press.