Thursday, February 9, 2017

Staying informed

I used to feel informed and in-the-know about what was happening in the world, primarily from regular NPR listening. In the year before HP’s birth I regularly listened to both Morning Edition and All Things Considered. My listening continued after HP’s arrival, especially in the evenings. Neil would come home and watch HP while I cooked dinner and listened to the news. Then E entered the scene, and it all fell apart.

I was woefully uninformed about current events the first year after E's birth. My world felt confined to the immediacy of what was happening inside the four walls of our home. In my sleep-deprived state I was both unwilling and unable to take on the world's problems in addition to my own. For a time, that was fine.

Then 2016 happened and the pendulum swung the other direction. Our family had settled into a regular rhythm, which gave me more time and energy to pay attention to current events. That extra time coupled with an election I couldn't look away from led to the opposite problem: I was consuming too much news and felt overloaded.

I am still trying to find that right balance. I want to stay informed and engaged--there is so much happening that requires information and action!--but I don't want it to take over my life in an unhealthy way. If anything I am still on the "too much news" side of things. It feels manageable, but could use some tweaking to make it more sustainable. Here's how I'm keeping up these days:
  • Subscription to Time magazine. I love that as a weekly publication, the news is pre-digested. There is more analysis, synthesis, and bigger picture thinking than found in the 24-hour news cycle.
  • Subscription to our local paper. We started this about six months ago but I wish we had subscribed sooner. How else I would find out who was running for the school board and other local offices?
  • The Skimm. This is a news-recap that comes to my inbox M-F. It gives me the headlines of what's happening in the world, both politically and culturally. It is geared toward millennial women, which is fine for me, but might be too casual an approach for others. I appreciate that they also recap big pop culture and sports news. Without it, I wouldn't even know when the Super Bowl was (not an exaggeration).
  • NPR politics podcast. I resisted listening to this for awhile, but now I can't live without it. It keeps me up to date on political happenings with insightful analysis and perspectives from journalists in thick of it.
  • Subscription to the New York Times online. Every evening I sit down and sift through the top stories and "most popular" section. Since the election it has felt even more important to support quality journalism like the NYT.
  • Watching John Oliver's Last Week Tonight on YouTube. It only comes out once a week (or less) and it is something Neil and I both enjoy watching. I find most all television news insufferable, but I find this to be funny and informative. It has been on hiatus since just after the election and I am looking forward to its return.
I am not able to keep up with all of the above all the time. I often end up skimming the front section of the local paper and let Time pile up for a week or two before sitting down and reading. I most religiously read the NYT and the Skimm and always listen to the latest NPR politics podcast.
How are you managing to stay informed without losing your mind in these crazy times?

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