Ted Grimsrud—December 12, 2016
My approach to gathering news and information about the world is pretty haphazard. I have not put much time into self-consciously seeking out the best sources. More, I notice some sources that I find helpful and connect with them. In this post, I will simply list what I find helpful. I invite anyone who has additional ideas to share them in the comments.
I don’t offer this out of any sense of expertise on my part. But it is possible there are some sources here that might be new to a few people. In these times, we need to share our thoughts and resources and not worry too much about whether we are profound enough. What I offer here is simply a response to my wife Kathleen’s question: How do you stay informed?
I’m far from being a news junkie. I have pretty much eliminated television and radio from my life. Partly, I find those media to be more conducive to manipulating the watcher/listener.
I used to read corporate media regularly—Time or Newsweek, New York Times, Washington Post. And longer ago I listened to NPR. But I increasingly felt like I was being shaped by them in ways I didn’t like, even if I partook of them critically. I was reminded of this during the primaries this year when I read the Post a lot. I found the pro-Clinton bias quite subtle but relentless—and off-putting.
Now, I try to stay aware with a wide mix of written sources, mostly accessed randomly.For starters, though, to help my convictional framework, I read as much as I can from a core group of thinkers who I trust. This is partly for their information, but maybe even more to reinforce a sense of critical awareness. Some of the key people for me are Noam Chomsky, Naomi Klein, and Cornel West. I greatly respect their values, their knowledge and intelligence, and the breadth of their visions for human wellbeing.
I get emails from numerous sources that I scan over quickly. And I do mean “scan.” I never spend more than a few seconds on an email except when, occasionally, I seem something I want to read more thoroughly. Not very sophisticated, but I find this approach useful.
As I put this list together, I realized that I don’t know of any sites from an overt faith perspective other than Tikkun. I would love to learn of more….
Twenty-five informative sites:
Journalist Amy Goodman is the heart and soul of this multimedia resource. The main production is an hourly TV/radio news show every weekday morning. This show features reporting of key events, analysis from a progressive political perspective, and regular in-depth interviews with important newsmakers and analysts. The website is terrific; it offers written transcripts of each show, a comprehensive video archive, and additional footage beyond what makes the main show. And, no commercials!
I don’t actually read very much from this site, though I am glad for its existence. One service I appreciate is email alerts throughout the day on breaking news of import. There is a progressive sensibility in the reporting, so it’s a nice alternative to more mainstream sources such as the Washington Post and New York Times.
A source of excellent longform analyses. Several times a week, essays are published taking a deep look at some current issue, often related to “national security.” The site is resolutely anti-war and anti-empire. Writers include former military people such as Andrew Bacevich and Ann Jones, hotshot reporters such as Nick Turse and Jeremy Scahill, and superstar thinkers such as Noam Chomsky and Naomi Klein. The editor, Tom Engelhardt is a national treasure. A nice bonus is that a regular writer, Rebecca Gordon, is a theologian.
A small but mighty newsletter that offers sharp critiques of the corporate media (especially the NY Times, Washington Post and the TV networks—and PBS and NPR). Many of these critiques are devastating, and they show that the “liberal” media serves a corporate agenda and a pro-establishment agenda. By reading FAIR, I feel at least somewhat inoculated against the subtle dynamic of “manufacturing consent” that the pro-Empire propaganda of the corporate media plagues us with.
One of three news and analysis aggregating sites I subscribe to (see the next two notes as well). They have some original work, but also link to writings from various sources. The general orientation is leftish. A helpful way to stay current and to have some kind of filter that identifies important reporting.
See comments above under “Truthout.” I don’t play close enough attention to the differences among these three sites to say what is distinctive about each. There is some overlap of articles among them, but not enough to make me not want to keep reading all three.
Ditto in relation to what I wrote in the above two notes. As a rule, it seems as if all three draw pretty heavily on mainstream newspapers, especially the Post and Times. And they seem a bit credulous in repeating Democratic Party talking points.
The one overtly religious site in this list. I love the sensibility of Tikkun, the voice of the Network of Spiritual Progressives. I’ve been reading the hard copy journal since it started around 30 years ago. Rabbi Michael Lerner has done terrific work over the years in providing an education on the peaceable elements of the Jewish tradition and equally terrific work at giving voice to the peaceable elements of other faith traditions.
A unique and most welcome voice among progressive political sites. As the title indicates, Yes! focuses on “good news”—communities and strategies that work to bring about social healing and transformation. However, this is not a superficial, cheerleady approach. The analyses are hard-hitting and the sensibility is quite realistic about the depth of brokenness and resistance to change that we face.
An important and venerable publication that continues to fight the good fight of critique and advocacy from a left-liberal perspective. I read the weekly magazine in hard copy, but the website is also solid and goes far beyond the magazine’s articles. It is largely an asset that a variety of perspectives within that broad rubric “left-liberal” is included—though sometimes there is a kind of smugness in some of the more “liberal” and “realistic” voices that I find irritating. Consistently anti-war—the Nation passed a key test for me in opposing the attacks on Afghanistan shortly after 9/11 (unlike many other “liberals”).
For many years this was a kind of one person shop featuring in-depth reporting and analysis from Robert Parry. In recent years, the stable of writers has expanded. These tend to be longer analyses, along with some original reporting. The focus is on national security issues and the stance is rigorously critical of American warism.
A fascinating site and hard-copy publication that I have only recently been more attentive to. The general stance is consistently a bit to the left of many of the cites mentioned above. The writers often are academics who likely identify themselves as Marxists or Socialists. So they tend to more critical of the Democratic Party than some of the other cites. The tone tends to be a bit adversarial, but I am finding the vast majority of pieces to be well thought through.
A fairly new entry into the alternative media arena. Features the writings of two of the sites co-founders, Glenn Greenwald and Jeremy Scahill, among others. These are some of our best anti-imperial reporters. They often cut through the propaganda of the Empire that even some very intelligent progressive analysts too easily accept.
Another newer publication taking a consistently leftish, anti-imperial stance. Tends to be more academically-oriented than most of the other sites I’m mentioning here. I have not looked at it that often, but the pieces I see tend to be solid and helpful.
I mention this site and the following two mostly in homage to their past contributions to my understandings. I used to subscribe to all three as hard-copy magazines in years past. However, I have kind of lost track of them in more recent years. They do have websites that I expect would reward attention. In These Times was (and presumably still is) especially strong on labor coverage and provides a nice alternative to the East Coast-centeredness of many of the sites I mention here.
Note the above comment. Historically, The Progressive has been especially strong in its coverage of peace movements and its critiques of warism. It is, like In These Times, a midwestern publication, being free from the New York City bubble.
The publishers of Z Magazine. These folks have tried to create a wide-ranging community of the Left. Set in Boston. Worth checking out.
This and the following four sites are all representatives of the corporate media. I believe they should all be read critically (not meaning to imply that the other sites above should not also be read critically; the difference, it seems to me, is that we read the progressive media critically in relation to clearly expressed commitments whereas we read the corporate media critically in relation to more subtle pro-status quo commitments). None are devoted to social transformation in the same sense as the above sites. The New Yorker does regularly publish some excellent reporting, especially by writers Jane Mayer and Elizabeth Kolbert. Many of the other writers, including editor David Remnick, are often smug and condescending in their subtle pro-establishment sensibilities. The website provides daily commentary on breaking news.
I love to read this magazine for educational purposes. The writing is kind of high generalist, mostly written by academics but accessible to non-specialists. It’s a way to stay in touch with today’s intellectual currents. The political orientation is generally liberal, kind of genteel Ivy League. This is often frustrating, but if one expects such a sensibility, one can learn a lot from the articles. The website includes some, not all, the articles from the print version, as well as a few shorter pieces responding to daily events.
I just started subscribing to their news bulletins. Probably a more trustworthy mainstream source than the Times or Post in that the Guardian is not in thrall to the American Empire in the same way. In the post-election days they gave voices to great North American thinkers such as Cornel West and Naomi Klein who not have been welcomed in the US corporate media.
I am not a fan of the Post. It’s editorial page is predictably pro-war and many of its reporters reflect a strongly pro-establishment bias (under the guise of being “neutral”). But getting the daily bulletins is a good way to keep a eye on the establishment’s thinking and it is a good way to be aware of breaking events.
The Times is a bit less problematic than the Post. The editorials are often good, and some of the regular op-ed writers are worth following. Some of the reporting is solid, of course, though the pro-establishment bias is strong (the work of FAIR, mentioned above, is indispensable for protection against the tendency to be too credulous concerning the Times). It’s worth the trouble of signing up for the various email bulletins to get a sense of what’s happening in the world as filtered through the ideas of the world’s most influential newspaper.
I can’t say much about this site yet. I just discovered it and signed up for regular emails. My sense is that it is intelligent and perceptive in many ways—the farthest thing from being a mouthpiece for the Republican Party or corporate capitalism. There does seem to be a clear anti-warism element, at least among some of the writers. It strikes me as a useful thing to be aware of possible connections that might be made between the “right” and the “left” in the days to come.
I include this site at the urging of Kathleen. KPFA is a radio station, not a publication. The resources here are audio, not written. I actually only rarely visit it because I’m mostly a reader. But the station and the site are great resources. Along with live streaming, the site contains archives of many terrific shows—reporting, analysis, interviews, from a broad set of progressive sources. The radio station is in Berkeley, CA, so there is an emphasis on Bay Area issues. But it has a national and international focus as well. A great source of podcasts.
Perhaps it goes without saying, but I find Facebook a helpful resource. I have several friends who regularly post links to materials I would not know about otherwise. Whatever else one might say about the addictions and cheap pleasures of Facebook, I have also found it to be the source of a lot of useful information—and occasionally enlightening conversations.
[This is the fifth of a series of six posts reflecting on the election and its aftermath. The first post was “What happened?” The second post was “What to expect and what to hope for.” The third post was, “The book of Revelation and America’s election.” The fourth, “The book of Revelation on living in Empire.” The sixth post will be “Ten books for a radical Christian sensibility.”]