S/SW blog philosophy -

I credit favorite writers and public opinion makers.

A lifelong Democrat, my comments on Congress, the judiciary and the presidency are regular features.

My observations and commentary are on people and events in politics that affect the USA or the rest of the world, and stand for the interests of peace, security and justice.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Grabbing the news isn't that simple

Staying informed and in the know is not easy for a news junkie like me. I watch some television, mainly C-SPAN, but I find myself missing the pleasures of well written words. My local newspaper changed hands and changed format, so I rarely read it any more. That leaves me, like many of you, to reliance on the Internet for news.

The latest news via RSS feeds is the way many of us go on line to get our current events info. Bloglines is where I get my 111 feeds. Signing up for that many stories every day was just crazy. MSNBC claimed in 2004 that about 50 such feeds would be the average for a typical user of the RSS method. There is no way in the world that I will be "well read" as a result of my scanning marathons. And with Bloglines, I only have room for 200 items from any one subscription. So unread, they just stacked up and quit - getting stale as the days passed.

So my next project will be to delete at least half of my feeds. Those I keep will be based on several factors. I want to read well written and accurate material. I want to read the latest important news. I want viewpoints from around the world. I want to keep up in my special areas of interest. And I want to read regularly from familiar writers.

My folder categories will eventually include the only the following:

  1. My Favorites -- These are my "blog friends." I try to visit these writers almost every day. These writers always have something interesting to say, or lead interesting lives that they share openly and authentically with their readers. I have been reading some of them for years.

  2. Essential U.S. Newspapers -- The New York Times, The Washington Post, and the LA Times. Others will have a different list, perhaps one that includes their hometown newspaper.

  3. Essential News Services & Magazines -- McClatchy and Reuters news services, as well as Slate Magazine and US News & World Report. The news services often have a breaking story first. Notice that I do not subscribe to Google or Yahoo! news, nor to USA Today or any television feeds.

  4. Recognized Blogs -- Glenn Greenwald @ Salon is my intelligence specialist. Steve Clemons @ The Washington Note works at a Washington think tank and mingles with important politicians here and abroad. Juan Cole @ Informed Comment is my Middle East specialist. Andrew Sullivan @ The Atlantic is a thoughtful and articulate Conservative. The Mahablog is done by a full time blogger who is fierce and prolific. Steve Benen @ The Carpetbagger Report is a very trustworthy progressive who writes very well. Empty Wheel just got launched after beginning at Firedoglake. Over the years I have come to trust what these folks post.

  5. "Big" Progressive Political Blogs -- Firedoglake,, Talking Points Memo, DailyKos, and the Huffington Post. I read these important blogs to keep up with the latest inside stuff as well as to (naturally) reinforce my own progressive biases.

  6. Foreign News (in English) -- Aljazeera presents the other side of Middle East news. The International Herald Tribune is a well respected paper edited in France. Haaretz is in Israel, Ria Novosti in Russia, and Deutsche Welle is in Germany. China Daily and the Asia Times come from the far east. The BBC News, the Guardian Unlimited and the Financial Times all originate on the United Kingdom. If I could read only one for hard news it would be the Financial Times, one of the most accurate, according to news junkies. Of course sites such as Aljazeera, Haaretz and the Russian and Chinese publications have a certain amount of propaganda just as American news has. Since I try to post about other countries on Saturdays, these sites will get a good scanning once a week. I also refer to these sources to get the other side's "take" on American news.

  7. Special Interests -- Because I am interested in the space program, the environment, science breakthroughs, and the literary and imagery worlds, I subscribe to a variety of feeds that have a narrower range. They include NASA Breaking News, Sierra Club's Carl Pope,, Scientific American, Nature, NYT Book Review, WaPo Book Review, and Daily Dose of Imagery.

  8. Websites to which I post -- I subscribe to feeds of my own stuff for several reasons. I see it as a way to save extra copies, to quickly read and respond to any comments that have come in, and to easily read in some cases what my co-bloggers or other contributors have written. South by Southwest and Making Good Mondays are my individual Blogger sites. The Reaction, Texas Kaos, TPMCafe, and scrap paper are blogs with multiple contributors.

This is probably more than you want to know about my experience of the blogosphere. I did not link to every single site, so let me know if you need an additional link. Even I am not that obsessive. I am a bit of an incurable teacher, and cannot seem to resist passing along information at my grandmotherly age. There will be real news tomorrow. In the meantime, I would love to learn about your favorites and your tricks for managing the volume of news we get nowadays.

View my current slide show about the Bush years, "Millennium," at the bottom of this column.

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billie said...

i am on a self imposed news blackout- meaning i am only reading folks' personal blogs unless something big needs a follow up. it is all over the blogosphere about folks being overloaded and overwhelmed by the news these days. with so very much corruption and whatnot- folks don't know what to do with the info. apparently, neither does congress (snark)- i just delete the misc. section in my google reader- you have an account automatically since you have a blogspot- and i try and make the rounds to my blog buddies. i usually always read but don't always comment. i don't get my local paper anymore because they went predominately local. they cut everything that wasn't local down to about one page of highlights. no thanks. i don't care whose kid made what team or which school is having a concert on which night. my opinion is- there are bigger things going on in the world- and it's fairly self centered to go about life as usual while burying your head in page 3 of the 'out and about' section. you want pics of your kid's event- take your digital camera. that's not news- it's selling subscriptions. i think i got off topic. sorry. :)

Carol Gee said...

betmo, you are probably smart to limit your exposure to upset. I think my reaction is not as healthy: I just numb out.
Speaking of Congress, Keith Olberman just got off a good one. He ran a little story about scientists discovering how to make a fearless mouse by removing the gene that allows them to smell a cat and get afraid. He wondered aloud whether the discovery might bring about a cure for Democrats in Congress.
And no, you aren't off topic regarding local news. Lots of people like to be big fish in little puddles.
Thanks for your comment, my friend.