*See updates since the post was originally written. The way we get our news should be a shifting process, as methods and technology changes.
At the top left hand corner of every New York Times front page you will see the words “all the news that’s fit to print”. A college professor of mine Robert Sahr once pointed out how ridiculous this statement was. There is no possible way you could fit all the news worthy of print in a hundred papers, let alone into one. Each news outlet chooses what stories to pursue. Fewer ones make it to print. I love the New York Times, and I used to be a junkie. But I began to find that I was increasingly being affected by the stories I was reading. Did I really need to know about crime and mayhem around the world? Local papers and news outlets are even worse. Turn on the 11 o’clock news anywhere in the US and you will soon be depressed. Max Lucodo in his book Fearless tells about Frank Furedi’s study of the increased use of the word risk in British newspapers. In 1994 risk appeared 2,037 times increasing to over 8,000 times in 2008. A psychologist friend once stated the obvious, “we can not as humans handle all the worlds bad news”. So I have stopped watching, listening and reading. I still need to know what is going on in my world. -My WORLD- is the key phrase. That is why I like tools like Alltop.com, Twitter, Google Reader, and yes occasionally Facebook. I can peruse these news sources -yes I did say sources- and find the news I need for the day. Rather than going through a media source, where an editor picks my stories for me (and today for not such pure reasons) I can choose my own stories from people I trust. This has revolutionized how I digest news.
About a year and a half ago a friend told me that he does not read papers anymore or watch CNN. It seemed odd at the time because I knew him to be someone who likes to keep up on current events. He then went on to tell me that he gets all of his news from twitter. If it is a story that his friends are talking about, he will click on their links and read for himself. At the time I thought he was nuts, but I have now come to do the same. I follow people in my network whom I trust. Most of them have similar interests as me. If they begin to talk about a story they will usually have a link associated with it for me to learn more.
Beyond this I have what I like to call my own personal newspaper using My Alltop. It changes every day and the topics range from fly-fishing news to publishing news. Alltop is one of many ways, and currently my favorite, for people to gather rss feeds into one place where they can digest all of it. I like Alltop because it has the major blogs that I like most. I can hover over a headline and easily see the first few lines of the article. It is also a great way for me to answer people’s question “what blogs do you read.” With one link they are reading what I read. Of course not all blogs are on Alltop, but they can easily be submitted. I use Google reader for ones that are not on alltop. There I can also share my favorites with others. The bottom line to all of this is we can now be back in control of what news we digest. Instead of depending on an increasingly conglomerate run press for our information, we can search out our own sources. That is priceless in today’s world.
You can create your own Alltop page here.
-5/5/2010: Seth Godin had some great thoughts on how we get our news today. All the news that fits.
-8/17/2010: Flibboard. New tools come on the scene all the time. It is rare that one so unique, simplistic and useful as Fliboard shows up. If you own an iPad you really need to be using Flipboard to read you community driven news. I can now see my Facebook and Twitter list updates in a well designed digital magazine format. Check them out at flipboard.com And don’t take my word for it. Robert Scoble is the one who turned me on to Flipboard. Here is what he had to say. First look at “revolutionary” social news iPad app: Flipboard
-1/19/2011: I am now mainly using my Twitter lists and Facebook friend updates to get my news now. I find it easier to read through them than using any of the tools mentioned above. I think it is interesting how I went from simple lists to tools that try to synthesis those list, back to the original list. It is a full circle.
-6/14/2011: All the scandals be it the Governator’s affair, Weinergate or whatever, I constantly find I am the last one to know. Most of my news sources you read about above don’t spend much time sharing about scandal and I think I am better off because of it.