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Your News Basket

by John on 05/07/2012

A News Basket is your personal system of gathering information.  The purpose is to get you informed QUICKLY.  After all, you have work, family, entertainment, and hobbies to attend to.  Life awaits all of us.  The golf course calls me.

And this way you won’t be considered a biased bore, closed-minded, or stupid at a smart cocktail party.   Guys, chicks dig it when you mention two sources to back up what you say.  Plus, you will spot examples of media bias immediately.

Your News Basket makes the hard work of being informed easy.  It’s worked for a lot of people I’ve helped.  Feel free to modify.  And feel free to offer suggestions here.

Here is a News Basket I recommend.

Read 4 daily newspapers.  (I thought this was about speed?  It is.  Read on.)  Here are my choices: New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and your local daily.  This way you cover the so-called opposite biases of the Times and the Journal.  (We can discuss those biases in another post.)

The trick to reading four newspapers each day:

  • Reading online
  • Speed reading: take a course; it’s worth it
  • Read only the first five paragraphs of all stories.  I hereby give you permission to not read to the end. 

Feel better?  No?  Ok, here’s why you can skip to the next story:

  • All the information is in those top 3-inches of the story.  Usually the information in the fifth or sixth paragraph (not a scientific finding, just my experience) is background from previous stories.
  • The first day of a news story is usually the first draft of history and will most likely change as the story develops and progresses.
  • If it is a story that is really important to you, then read the whole thing or save it for later.

Next, read two political blogs: one on the left; one on the right.  My two choices: on the left Talking Points Memo; on the right National Review Online.  Again, find your own.  But make sure to find balance.  And more importantly, find a site or blog that is reputable.

Subscribe to a daily email.  I recommend Morning Money from Politico.  Make sure the email comes from a reputable news sources.  Politico is straight politics; watching both sides.

Now your weekly news magazine: my choice is The Economist.  It’s a great read for a number of reasons.  It’s both left and right: it’s from England (those commies) and the stories on all things have a business and economic slant (so fascist).  Seriously, it is the best magazine in the world in my view.  And that is no knock on the other weeklies.  Again, I am looking for efficiency.

What about TV news

In the morning, you must turn on local TV news.  Listen to it – as you get ready for your day.  This is all about safety and breaking news that could affect your day.

How about the nightly news?  I suggest the PBS News Hour.  I explain it all here in this previous post.  The key here is to record the News Hour and buzz through what you don’t need to watch.  Avoid the cable yakkers: they’re entertainment.

And reading non-fiction is also something to work into your day. 

I have a Kindle but I only use it when I have free time to really indulge in a book.  Most of the time, I use books on tape through Audible on my Droid.  When I am traveling or exercising I have a book in my head.  The trick: turn the narrator speed up to 3X.  Your brain will pick it up.   My other trick is Capitol Reader.  They send me 8-page synopsis of books that I want to read but don’t have the time.  It’s useful.  Hey, like you didn’t use Cliff Notes in high school and college.  It didn’t hurt you then.

Try these out.  Don’t kill yourself the first day.  Work them in slowly.

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