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5 Easy Ways to Become More Informed About Politics

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Siena chapter.

As a brief preface, I love a good political GIF or Daily Show clip as much as the next person. However, it’s good to know about the issues going on in the world today on a deeper level than these venues allow. Even the simplest of issues are oftentimes more complex than short sound bites and YouTube videos will have them seem. Keeping consistently up-to-date with the ins and outs of the political spectrum requires dedication and time, which can be challenging as a busy college student who may not have a lot of natural interest in politics.

Whether you know who you’re voting for in the upcoming election yet or not, becoming informed about local, national, and world events is – shockingly! – quite important in general. This becomes even more necessary in light of the election season, as you want to ensure that your vote is the best representative of your views and dreams for the future of this country and the role it will play in the world on the whole.

To help out with this, here are some easy ways to become more informed about politics and current events.

1. Subscribe to theSkimm

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The Daily Skimm is an email newsletter delivered straight to your inbox every morning. Basically, the writers at theSkimm send out a daily update on what’s going on in the world in a fun and creative fashion. They cover issues of national and global concern, whether that be an update on meetings of the UN General Assembly, important internal affairs facing another country, or amusingly relevant pop culture references. While this newsletter itself does not always go incredibly in-depth with their coverage, they do give enough information to give you solid basis of knowledge, as well as links to additional sources and information.

2. Read the paper

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Some say that print journalism is a dying medium. This fact may be up for debate, but until then, the school library still does carry most local and national newspapers, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the Times Union. You’ll have to read them in the library, but it’s a good way to get the news free of some of the flashy gimmicks and mean website comments of online news sources. And here’s a pro tip: while consistent newspaper reading will certainly help you become fairly well-informed politically, most of the important content in a news article will be in the first few paragraphs. Reading those to start will give you a good idea of whether or not you want to continue with the rest of the article or move on to the next one.

3. Download some news apps

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If following current events is a new lifestyle choice for you, downloading a news app might be the way to go. Most major news outlets have their own apps, allowing you to access the latest news stories on the app or receive push notifications on news updates as they happen. For news with a more international focus, check out the BBC News or the Deutsche Welle, as they report on events occurring in other countries that American news outlets don’t always pick up on. Also, if you’re interested in language learning, checking out news apps in a language you want to learn is a great way to develop your vocabulary knowledge!

4. Get your facts straight

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As you know, politicians tend to list off random facts that may or may not be true in the interest of gaining votes and public approval. In order to see which candidates and politicians back up their statements with factual truth, use websites like factcheck.org to see where numbers and generalizations in political discourse are coming from.

5. Know the bias of your news

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In this same vein, you’ll want to keep the bias of your news outlet of choice in mind as you consume it. While most news sources claim to be fair and impartial with the coverage they provide, it’s very hard to completely eliminate bias in writing about politically charged and controversial issues. If you’ve noticed that you tend towards a particular news source, look at other sources that approach the news from a different perspective. You’ll likely gain a new perspective on an issue or strengthen your previously held beliefs.

Finally, remember that learning more about current events is a process! There will always be people who seem to know more than you, but don’t force this! Every little extra bit of knowledge helps.

Jenna Kersten is a Siena College Class of 2018 alumna. During her time at Siena, she was an English major with minors in German and International Studies.