5 Tips for Reading Online News

News is important. And overwhelming – according to 70% of Americans polled in 2013. The Internet has changed the way we consume all kinds of media: algorithms used by social media sites like Facebook have created a generation of users with bad Internet habits, filling our feeds with information they think is personally important to us (i.e. – Which "Friends" Character Are You?).

While many say they wish they knew more about what was happening in the world, the vast amount of information online often leaves readers confused and disinterested. Here are some tips that can help you sift through the mammoth that is the Internet and better understand our world.

Be careful when reading:

News stories are framed and biased in their content. Reporters don’t (always) intend to create biases, but in selecting what they believe is relevant to a story, they are doing just that. Despite awesome new technology, we must be wary of citizen journalists reporting false information. Similarly, with acclaimed outlets, we must be cautious of biases. For example: if you’re going to read The New York Times, see what the The Wall Street Journal is saying, too.

 

Expand your news source horizons:

The NYT and WSJ are recognizable and credible American news sources: but what are other countries saying? Try a look at the UK’s The Guardian, or Qatar-based (editorially independent) Al Jazeera. Seeing the same story with new lenses will reveal the values and views of another culture (helping you recognize your own).

New forms of media are a byproduct of the digital age. Sites like Slate, Buzzfeed and Mashable (or even Her Campus!) deliver information in a unique way. Mixtures of conventional news and stylistic articles, these sites are a perfect place to get a daily dose of current events while appeasing your pop culture craving.

Break down content by region:

To be well informed, it is important to understand what is happening in your local area, the national sphere and, perhaps the most intimidating of news topics, the international arena. While the local election may not feel as pressing as what’s happening with ISIS (or vise-versa), every story offers meaning. You will find connections and facts that can change your original perspective.

Use Twitter's trending topics:

In our digital age, it is crucial that we use the technology available to us to get the full picture of any story. This is not to say trending topics give us the most important news, but they do tell us the subjects to which people are paying attention (which is news itself). Equally interesting are the personal tweets, the opinions and criticisms by the general public. Whether smart, satirical or just plain ignorant, personal comments reveal a lot about how people perceive the news. You may see a viewpoint you’d never think of on your own. For instance, you can supplement a news article on Scotland with the tweets of those who are living there.

Mix up what you’re reading:

The truly informed individual reads all types of news. While following breaking stories and trending topics is valuable, it’s also important that you read articles that are of interest to you. Find your niche subject(s) – cooking, movie reviews, molecular science, digital technology, high fashion, whatever it may be – and keep tabs on them. News is everywhere!

Like any other aspect of your life, keeping up with the news is something that requires effort and practice. Create your own routine, or switch it up daily. The human experience is more extraordinary, terrifying and heart-warming than your favorite novel – it’s up to you to invest the time into reading it.

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