Wednesday, August 4, 2021

SearchResearch Challenge (8/4/21): What do you do to find high quality news content?

 As you might have seen yesterday... 





... this week I'm thinking about how to do SearchResearch for News / Late-breaking information.  

Finding credible news information is an incredibly important skill to have--especially these days when misinformation (or just plain low-quality information) is rampant.  Politics!  COVID!  Wildfires!  Scandals!  

What does one do to find good stuff?  

As we've been writing the "How to Find..." series, I thought about asking you, our fearless SRS readers, about what your favorite strategies and methods are for finding news.  

So this is one of those open-ended SRS Challenges.  I'll be checking your replies each day, commenting and filling in thoughts as we go throughout the week.  Then next Wednesday, I'll summarize what we've talked about into a document for us all.  

Here's this week's Challenge: 


1.  When you're searching for news, what do YOU do?  Do you have strategies and tactics that you follow?  (NOTE:  We don't want to hear what you do in theory--we want to know what you do in reality!)  

2.  What's the best advice you could give someone who is searching for great, high-quality news/late-breaking information?  What's your advice / guidance / counsel?  


I've been open-ended about this on purpose.  Maybe going to a news site isn't the way you find the best information.  (If not, what do you do?)  

Or perhaps you integrate information from multiple sources--if you do, how do you decide what to search for, and when do you know it's time to stop searching?  

I'm looking forward to seeing what we all collectively come up with.  I'll be active in the comments stream this week!  


Search on!  


27 comments:

  1. To follow credible news sources, I use a news aggregator (Feedly) and I pay for subscriptions or make donations to major sources (e.g., The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The New York Review of Books, The Intercept, Mother Jones, National Public Radio, Economist Magazine, The New Yorker) as well as some foreign sources (e.g., BBC, Al Jazeera). Keeping up takes some money and a lot of reading time. Occasionally I use fact-checking sources (e.g., factcheck.org) and browser searches although it's very important to go to the sources and verify the credibility of any source. When anyone sends me "news" or an assertion, I ask for the source and thoroughly vet it, including who is funding the source. Finally, I pay attention to critics of mainstream media, like Glenn Greenwald and other unfettered publishers whom I trust and use Substack (e.g., Edward Joseph Snowden, Michelangelo Signorile, Robert Hubbell). Healthy skepticism, browser search skills, keeping an open mind, and admitting that appearances and first impressions can be deceiving helps but my recent disappointment about the Governor of New York has reminded me that everyone has a dark side and there is dysfunction in every life. I benefit from having friends who challenge my every belief and I look at every "fact" as a transitory "current truth" and wait to see whether it changes in time as history is always rewritten based on new information and better interpretation. The essence of interpreting anything is critical thinking skills.

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    1. What a great perspective: News truly is the "first draft of history..." and, as such, is always being re-written as we learn more. Useful to remember this.

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  2. This is only obliquely related, but it is what I do. I like to read news generated close to what is happening. For example, I grew up near the Gulf coast but now live far away. I was very interested in the April 2010 oil leak and the national coverage was spotty, so I read the New Orleans and Pensacola newspapers. Not only was there more information in those publications, but the letters from readers describing what they were seeing every day gave a human picture of the devastation there that I would not have gotten from any newspaper.

    I also prefer international news for international events. My current favorites are the BBC and Raidió Teilifís Éireann in Ireland. These days the two have different perspectives on the G20 corporate tax reform which will affect the countries differently. When I travel internationally (here’s hoping), I read newspapers from my destinations to see what issues are important and what people are thinking in those places. The news may be biased but it does give a flavor of the culture.

    These strategies do not address accuracy as much as ambience, which is important to me sometimes, and it is one view of reality.

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    1. A local perspective is important. During the news coverage of the big California (local to me) earthquake of 1989, the national news got a LOT wrong (places, names, history) that the local reporting got correct.

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  3. In order to find the news I do this.

    If it is just checking what's news, my first visit is Google Discover. And there, I read the news I need. And then, visit News.Google.com sections. I visit both US version and Mexico's version

    After that, I visit the sites I like and trust to be informed. And read or watch the news

    If the news is the called "Breaking News" or news in development, like an earthquake or accident or something like that, after knowing about the news (maybe told by someone or getting a notification or listening about it), I go to Twitter as those are news that are changing minute by minute. I follow the same process for news that are informed in comments or as information that reporter gets and still are not in newspapers. Examples of these news are news about a soccer team, minute a minute in a presentation or similar.

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  4. One criterion I keep in mind is the criterion of embarrassment so let's say there's a fight between liverpool fans and Arsenal fans. If a pro-liverpool source says something that's not flattering for Liverpool fans, then I'm more likely to believe it as there is no clear incentive for the source to be inaccurate.

    I also favour sources that I already know to be nuanced and fair-minded like people within the Effective Altruism movement.

    Hashem ElAssad

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    1. Good point. Another thing to consider: what is motivating this particular coverage (or non-coverage) of an event. There might well be political forces at work as well, or financial forces, or some combination. I know of instances where outbreaks of dengue fever (in the US!) were not reported in the news, even though it's clearly a newsworthy story.

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    2. wow on the dengue fever bit!

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    3. Yeah.. it astounded me as well. But having dengue fever reported in your community REALLY wipes out the local tourist trade, so there are a lot of forces working together to NOT report such bad news.

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  5. I read the news every day on Stuff, which is our local (NZ) news site, but after changing ownership it has become very left-wing and the grammar and spelling in articles is often poor. Another issue with Stuff is that it seems to show different articles depending on whether one is on a phone or desktop, or logged in. My husband will mention an article that I haven't seen, and it's hard to find an article that is a day or two old. In that case I do a Google search using the Site operator to find the item on Stuff. Why don't I find a different news site? New Zealand Herald now has subscription-only access to some material, and the layout of Radio New Zealand (RNZ) was dull. If I want more information on a topic, or backstory or a different perspective, I do a Google search. Results include CNN, BBC, The Guardian and local NZ sites or sites specific to the topic I am interested in. That is enough for me.

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    1. just for fun, tried this search — the trick seems to be finding sources that just don't tell you what you want to hear… thanks machine learning.
      it often seems to be the cliche of drinking out of a mega fire hose… hard to be discerning…
      fwiw: a KIWI top 35 list…
      the full list
      for Ramón
      for jon
      for those of us in Guam
      another list
      out of Japan - english version
      a secondary site for topical/interesting bits…
      kottke
      also in the genre…

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    2. Learning discernment--we'll try to tackle that this coming week (or next)!

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  6. I like to use a variety of sources, so I'm a big fan of RSS feeds. Like Jeff, I use an aggregator, in my case, Netvibes. That way, I can create what is essentially my own newspaper. I know that RSS feeds are considered very old fashioned, but I would urge news outlets to include them in their coding.

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  7. I have a number of strategies for finding good quality news and it depends on what I am looking for and why, which strategy I use. If it is UK or US news, I have online subscriptions to the FT, the Guardian, the NY Times and the Washington Post and will check those first. I like to get different points of view and so, sometimes if I am not in a hurry, I will also look at other newspapers with which I am familiar and which I know are reliable and see what they are saying. If I am looking for news from countries I am unfamiliar with and I want a local view point, I will look for newspapers or news services in the county and check them out on Wikipedia to see what they have to say there about them. All of this will depend on time and how important the story is to me.

    I am a school librarian and often give advice to students and teachers on searching for reliable sources, especially those from news sources they are unfamiliar with. I teach them how to check out a news source using lateral reading, a quick strategy for impatient web users who want immediate results. I also teach classes of students to use the various tools on google for finding news sources, especially students looking for foreign language news articles.

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    1. I also have several subscriptions to a variety of sources, as well as news feeds from different locations and political outlooks.

      And we'll talk about lateral reading AND other language sources.

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  8. This search tool allows you to filter results by whether the source leans right or left (under lens, search for the word right or left)
    https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/waldo-%E2%80%93-search-less-see-m/codlehhdmfjjenohbcibmhhedmfmefib

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  9. My first stop for news is my local newspaper, which I pay to subscribe to. Next I use Google News, which helps to provide a better global perspective. If I am looking for detailed news about a minor, local matter, I check the websites and social media accounts of our local radio stations. For something that is 'breaking' news, I usually turn to social media (Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, generally). I have also appreciated the AP's Not Real News feature (https://apnews.com/hub/not-real-news). I don't personally look for general news coverage through my social media feed, but it is interesting to see what other people think is 'news'.

    When I find an article that I want to share with others who may not subscribe to our local paper, I look to see if it's an AP story. If so, I Google the keywords in the article's title and try to find an open source version (most recently, I did this with https://www.denverpost.com/2021/08/08/facebook-prayer-tool/, which was also reported in my local paper (behind the subscription paywall)).

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