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Following the News Isn’t as Intimidating as You Think

Ever since I was in elementary school, I’ve heard my history teachers preach the importance of being informed and involved with politics. And of course, I always nodded my head in fervent agreement. Being involved in politics is how you change laws and improve lives! Gen Z especially is proving to be extremely involved in the news, and is putting in the effort to form independent opinions about current events.

However, I have not lived that out now that I’m older and eligible to vote. I believe I speak for many when I say that politics are scary! I never know where to start and it always seems like there’s a million things I should already know. Aside from a presidential election, I tend to steer clear.

But this is a problem I want to solve! I’ve reached out to people in my life who regularly follow politics to get some tips and tricks. The common message? It’s a lot easier than it looks. Here are five simple steps you can take toward being a more informed citizen!

Don’t be afraid to ask around.

A lot of news is spread through word of mouth. Scrolling through Instagram or sitting through a family dinner regularly exposes you to varying political opinions. You don’t need to agree or disagree with what you hear, but you can always ask someone for more details. Chances are, they’ll be eager to explain. Asking a variety of people in your life can help in understanding multiple perspectives of an issue. Understanding all sides is important when navigating your own thoughts and beliefs.

Do some light research.

If you don’t feel comfortable asking people to explain, or if you don’t have anyone in your life willing to share, this is an excellent option. Of course, you must be very aware of the sources you’re looking at. Looking at sites like Wikipedia for basic information about an issue can be helpful to start. Follow this up by reading a few articles to discern your own stance.

Sign up for a daily news summary.

For those who want just enough news to hold a conversation, a daily update is perfect. One that I have recently signed up for is The Skimm. Each morning, I get an email summarizing a few major events I should know about.

There are also countless daily podcasts available on Spotify and other listening platforms. I’ve subscribed to a few 5-10 minute briefings to listen to as I’m commuting to school.

Find a news organization you trust to Check reguarly.

Obviously, different news organizations have different reputations and purposes—depending on your own goals or stance you may want to dig around for a news site that offers what you’re looking for. You can opt for local, national or international news.

For those KU students reading this, the university offers a free New York Times subscription, which could be a great place for you to start! Some other sources known for being fairly unbiased and reputable include NPR, BBC and The Economist. 

Something to be wary of—you don’t want to get caught in an echo chamber. This is when you only listen to the news you want to hear or already agree with. There are a lot of things going on in the world and it’s important to have the full picture!

Don’t get discouraged by all the different issues!

It’s no secret that the political world is huge—and it only gets bigger as you expand into national and international news. It’s so easy to get discouraged when you see constant argument, disagreement and inequality around you. I completely get it; there’s so much going on at once. There’s no shame in taking a break from the news when needed!

I’m excited to incorporate these tips into my daily life and see where it leads. Try incorporating a few of these tips into your routine. I hope this was encouraging and allows you to tackle current events with courage!

Hi there, I'm Audrey! I’m a sophomore at KU currently pursuing a major in English and minor in Communications Studies. I love to spend my time reading, listening to Taylor Swift, and rewatching rom coms!
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