Reader survey: news sources

2011-03-04

in Daily updates, Internet matters, Politics

Out of curiosity, where do readers of this blog regularly turn for news?

I look at a diversity of sources myself. I listen to CBC Radio 1 in the morning before work. I also sometimes listen to it during the evenings and weekends. I listen to the “This American Life” and “National Public Radio: Planet Money” podcasts, though not always in timely fashion.

Every week, I read The Economist from cover to cover, though I will admit to skimming some articles, especially in the finance and business sections. I at least glance through the headlines of The Globe and Mail and The Ottawa Citizen every day. I also keep an eye on Google News and have some Google Alerts set up. When I have excess time on my hands, I look at the websites for The New York Times, Slate, and Stratfor. I track hundreds of blogs via RSS (using Google Reader, since the shutdown threat at BlogLines), but I rarely have time to even scan through post titles in detail. I try to at least scan through posts on Slashdot and Boing Boing. People also email me a lot of articles and links.

When I have time, I watch “The Colbert Report” and “The Daily Show”, but that is the only television I watch with any kind of regularity. I also check out The Onion periodically.

I also try to keep up to speed on important non-fiction books, especially in areas closely related to climate change.

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{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

Jonathan March 4, 2011 at 2:02 pm

Most of my news comes from online sources. Primarily the Ottawa Citizen and Ottawa Sun. I tend to pop over to the Globe and Mail and National Post occasionally. I often read things that come up on the news feed for my Rogers email account (though, often, it’s a small story that leads to me searching the net for a full account).

I find checking in on various blogs leads me to reading stories in the New York Times and Washington Post semi-frequently.

I tend to tune into CTV Newsnet and sometimes CBC Newsworld.

I never really listen to the radio, anymore.

Matt March 4, 2011 at 5:36 pm

Google’s news page and reddit (and the links contained within) almost exclusively.

Banksy March 4, 2011 at 11:36 pm

I wish I had enough time to make a subscription to the Economist worthwhile. I always end up feeling overwhelmed by the pile of issues I cant get through. This is partly due to the fact that if I start reading an issue I feel compelled to read every article.

I wish they would cut it down to bi-weekly and then maybe i would consider a subscription. Otherwise I will just have to wait until I retire….

Other than that its Goolge news, Le Monde (because i am learning French), Radio Canada, G&M and Financial Times if I have time….

Part of my problem now is that i spend my whole day reading news at work….get a little burnt out.

BuddyRich March 5, 2011 at 8:49 am

Similar to you Milan.

CBC Website and Radio 1 Stream. TAL podcasts for interesting episodes. Occasionally the BBC and/or other online sources. Ars Technica and Slashdot for IT related news.

Locally, I read the Ottawa Citizen online and when the TV is on CJOH news (mostly for the weather). I only get that and CBC with the rabbit ears. Actually that’s not true. I also really like the Agenda with Steve Paikin on TVO, though I am not a regular watcher, I find he is a great moderator for panel discussions.

As for print, I flip through the Economist on the bus, and most weeks make the trek on Sunday to buy the NY Times for the Times Magazine and read at the local coffee shop.

oleh March 5, 2011 at 8:32 pm

My primary news source is the Globe and Mail a few times a week. I also review MacLeans and some CBC.

Like Banksy, I would also benefit from a bi-weekly or even monthly version of Economist. I think I would enjoy getting a news magazine with the quality approaching the Economist which came out monthly and maybe had fewer but longer articles. Any suggestions?

R.K. March 5, 2011 at 9:29 pm

longform.org is a good source for long-form journalism.

Tristan March 6, 2011 at 3:10 pm

I use Google News, not just the headlines but also the search function. I find it invaluable to be able to read articles from many regions next to each other; it’s an interesting way to read past regional editorial biases. Reading a single publication cover to cover is exposes one to serious risk of not recognizing specific editorial biases, which can mostly be recognized only by seeing differences between different sources and following up their sources to determine one’s own view.

Milan March 6, 2011 at 5:15 pm

I would argue that really being familiar with a specific publication is the only way to really be aware of its editorial biases. Otherwise, you just rely on stereotypes about the publication.

Also, The Economist is uniquely influential. I don’t think any other news magazine is so widely read within government, academia, or the NGO sector.

Tristan March 6, 2011 at 7:08 pm

You might become aware of its editorial biases in general, but this is of limited usefulness – what is useful is recognizing the specific editorial biases on specific issues at the point in time when the knowledge matters. And for that there can be no substitute to reading many different sources on the same story. In depth knowledge of a particular paper can surely be a help, but it is not a replacement for breadth.

Tristan March 6, 2011 at 7:15 pm

“Otherwise, you just rely on stereotypes about the publication.”

No you really don’t, you rely on what’s actually reported and how it contrasts with a set of other sources, ideally from different regions so not only the editorial biases will shift, but the interests of capital shift because the investors are likely to have divergent interests.

Milan March 7, 2011 at 9:43 am

The advertisers that support a paper and the investors who own many of them are not the only forces shaping editorial positions. Ultimately, the reputation of a paper depends on bring informative and usually correct, espousing positions based on logic, insight, and evidence.

The Economist also does more quantitative analysis than any other mainstream news source I know of. They also have better access to decision-makers than most.

As such, I think it makes sense as the single news source to devote the most time and attention to.

oleh March 11, 2011 at 6:59 am

My friend Jerome recommends the journal “Foreign Affairs” and gave me two copies to take home. There are 6 issues per year. Generally an issue tries to deal with a certain theme. It focusses on the US where it is based. Its contributors include decision makers or writers of influence.

Tristan March 11, 2011 at 10:16 am

“As such, I think it makes sense as the single news source to devote the most time and attention to.”

You can make arguments that the “Economist” is the best news source if you want, but you can’t get away from the fact that it is not value neutral, and it effectively reflects the values of its contributors, investors and editors. If you’re interested in reminding yourself that those aren’t the only values that exist, and remarkably, not the values shared by most Americans, Canadians, or people in this world, you might want to read more than a single source of news.

Milan March 11, 2011 at 10:27 am

Obviously, I understand that the opinions of The Economist are opinions and not Facts Handed Down By God.

Note also that the original post describes it as one news source among many. How many printed magazines do you read from cover to cover every week?

Tristan March 12, 2011 at 1:24 am

The printed magazines I read aren’t published every week. I read the Dominion cover-to-cover when it arrives in the mail, which is only about 9 or 10 times per year. In the last few weeks, however, in addition to internet-based news I’ve read about 1000 pages of books on history and politics, and attended 5 public events/lectures on political issues. I’ve written reviews of most of these books and events on my blog, which is good both for organizing my own ideas and for making them public where they can influence and be criticized by others.

Tristan March 12, 2011 at 1:25 am

I’m sorry about the last post, I come off as “look at all the things I do”. I felt defensive at the question “How many printed magazines do you read from cover to cover every week?”, which I feel is a bit attacking and presumptuous, especially since you know that hardly anyone reads any printed magazines cover to cover each week – even from the simple fact that hardly any magazines are printed every week.

oleh March 12, 2011 at 11:32 am

This is off the topic of a readers survey of news sources but relevant to the subject of reading a magazine cover to cover. For about two years I read the magazine The Walrus cover to cover. It is a Canadian version of Harpers. It is the only time I remember reading a magazine cover to cover. It took me about 7 hours which was workable in the month. One reason I read the Walrus cover to cover was because I read about subjects I would not normally read about. It was similar to when when we ordered a box of produce from a local farm. The contents of the box were based on what was in season. As a result I was exposed to produce that I was not used to eating. By reading the Walrus cover to cover I was exposed to subjects I would not normally read about. I believe that also the writing in the Walrus was quite strong.

I admire that Milan reads the Economist cover to cover for so long. Given the Economist’s density and weekly release, I have not even considered doing so. This certainly provides Milan with a strong foundation of knowledge of current events.

Alison March 12, 2011 at 3:51 pm

I rely on Google news; Metafilter & Twitter for aggregated content. I like to think I have a (within reason) undiscriminating attitude towards the source and a discriminating approach towards analyzing the content. With Twitter the aggregation is selective based on who I follow; with Metafilter content varies (human interest? funny? news? &c) but I’ve read it since 2002 and am familiar with the sorts of things that reach the front page. Daily, I read the headlines of Democracy Now.

I like the Economist although I often disagree with its editorial stances. I like its style of writing & the breadth of coverage. It is a good publication but some people get very precious about its conceits.

Everyone in my family reads it and in that realm it functions a conversation-starter. With some issues like climate change (depending on the audience you’re trying to convince) you can deploy its “Facts Handed Down By God” with sophistication, e.g. rebutting the notion that climate change isn’t real by appealing to what was printed in a the Economist.

Milan March 12, 2011 at 7:34 pm
Tristan March 13, 2011 at 10:03 pm

I should add, I get a lot of news from people in my community. For instance, when I want news about how things are going in my union, I don’t look at a publication – but ask any of a large number of people who I reliably can count on for news, all with their own normative take on various issues. If I want to know about things happening in my co-op, I ask board members, staff members, house members, or members in other houses. If I want to know about how things are going with a particular campaign on campus, I speak with people involved in those campaigns, some of which are journalists in their own right.

While international news is exciting, local affairs probably affect us the most – and more importantly, are a place where we can as individuals and as groups make concrete changes and improvements happen. Doing so requires not just reading publications, but engaging with people both to “get news”, and to interact in a way that each other’s opinions are transformed by respectful engagement.

Tristan March 15, 2011 at 10:18 pm
Milan March 15, 2011 at 10:24 pm

It is redundant, but I will point out for the fourth time that there are a whole variety of news sources listed in the original post. Not just The Economist.

That said, if it were only possible to read a single printed news source on a weekly basis, I think it would probably be the best choice for those interested in global politics.

Do people have other nominations? The New York Times? Newsweek?

oleh March 28, 2011 at 12:11 am

If one had only one news source , I cannot think of anything better than the Economist.

. April 23, 2011 at 8:12 pm

‘The Economist’ To Halt Production For Month To Let Readers Catch Up

LONDON—World-renowned news and opinion magazine The Economist announced plans to suspend any new online and print content for the next month in an effort to finally allow subscribers a chance to catch up. “It’s only fair to our readers,” said Economist editor Winthrop Parker, adding that there was no reason for subscribers to feel ashamed for not necessarily knowing every last detail about the current economic and geopolitical climate. “Even just scanning over some of the feature stories can sometimes take two or three daily bus commutes to finish. After all, some of these issues have as many words in them as a short novel. No one should be expected to do that in one week.” In related news, ESPN The Magazine announced Monday it would be suspending publication indefinitely until its readers learned to read.

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