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Getting and using the news


[3/11/09]

Staying informed — The Internet is a vast resource from which a great many of us gather most or all of our current affairs news. Any supplemental news will come from a newspaper, various magazines, the television (usually C-SPAN), or by word of mouth. But these will only be supplemental.

For bloggers — If we blog the Internet is primary because of it usefulness for links and cut-and-paste quotes. We use original news items from journalists who gather it for us. And we get habituated to our resources. We react, respond, synthesize, consolidate or otherwise put our own “take” on what is happening. It will reflect either breaking news or something else that we analyze or write an essay. Bloggers, for the most part, are not reporters of original, primary news. The one exception in my case is when I listen to a hearing or conference on C-SPAN and then report on it for a post.

What constitutes “news?” I feel that I have to know the latest important news, but have very little interest in reactive mainstream media gossip, he-said/she said controversies, or petty political spin. Revelations of significant behind the scenes information are of great interest to me. I am thus drawn to primary “investigative” journalism. And I make use of the major newspapers for the major events of the previous day or of what might be in the offing.

Getting my news — I imagine that some might stay informed by random surfing, “googling (via Dogpile),” or taking cues from friends. I am just obsessive enough that that would not do for my needs. I could not stay informed without having my organizing tools. Like most surfers I use bookmarks (Mozilla Firefox‘s great “Bookmarks Toolbar”), an aggregator (Bloglines), and (now) Twitter. I get several daily e-mailed newsletters on subjects I follow or organizations I support. ProPublica is a very fine nonprofit investigative journalism organization. And, even without financial support from me, the ACLU keeps in touch via e-mail. Therefore advocacy and issue-based blogging must have some real value.

Organizing what I need for blogging — I use a set of daily blog-theme folders into which to sort the e-mail newsletters or links from regular contributors, for later use during the week. The labels are Mondays-scandal, Tuesdays-Congress, Wednesdays-general, Thursdays-war, Fridays-the administration, Saturdays-other nations, and Sundays-rule-of-law. I also use a set of folders in Bloglines that roughly follow the theme idea. Thus, when I get ready to post for the day, I have some things to use that I have already set aside for my writing. For example, “Other countries – news” (such as Al Jazeera), and”Investigative faves,” (such as Salon‘s Glenn Greenwald), are labels that pertain to Saturday or Sunday posts.

Getting and using the news is how I get informed in order to inform others. Rarely to report the news directly, so the reliability of my primary news resources are important to me. And what find to be newsworthy is rather limited. I rely heavily on wonderful blogging tools to translate the information I find valuable into regular and reliable posts. I am still one of those “little” bloggers, but my approach has the goal of getting “bigger.”

See also Behind the Links, for further info on this subject.

Carol Gee – Online Universe is the all-in-one home page for all my websites.

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