“I can’t remember the last time I watched the news” and “I have no idea what’s happening in the world,” are a common, yet alarming, response I get from friends when conversation turns to the news of the day. I totally get it. Staying informed can be time consuming. Sometimes current events can even seem to go over our heads.
We often get stuck in our own self-confined bubbles and have a hard time keeping ourselves in the loop of what’s happening in our own city, let alone the country. We know current events are important but we have so many other things we’d rather spend our time doing.
Listening to the news comes last. Or sometimes not at all. Does this sound like you? We’ve all been there before.
Being informed though, has some advantages. Understanding what’s happening in the world in which we live and the current state of affairs in our own areas, helps us understand our role in it. It can inspire us on a career path or even help us align with a certain political cause. It might even inspire us to take action on an issue that desperately needs attention.
How can we know which candidates to vote for, or what issues to vote down or support, if we don’t know what’s going on around us and what’s needed most? Some day, one of those issues could affect you and your family.
If we decide not to be informed, we are ultimately declaring that we don’t care how things turn out. When we understand that we each have a role to play in what happens in this world, it’s easier to want to stay informed, especially for our kids. And the good news is that knowing what’s going on in the world doesn’t have a be a major chore. In fact, it can be so easy!
There are literally countless ways you can stay informed on current events. We’ve listed some of our favorites below. In just a few minutes a day, you can make staying informed on current events a priority. And you might even like it.
We’ve got 6 quick fixes that give you no more excuses:
There’s an App for That
If you find it hard to stay off your phone throughout the day, then download a news app or two. Scout out your favorite ones and enable push notifications on your phone. That way, when something major breaks, you won’t miss a thing.
Better yet, if you constantly find yourself on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter, then follow your favorite news sources there. Chances are, while you’re scrolling through photos of your friends’ kids, you’ll catch some news snippets in there too.
Email News Briefings
Let someone else do the hard work for you. Sign up for a daily briefing to be sent to your inbox every morning. I wake up, make my kid’s school lunches, and then spend two minutes scrolling through the previous day’s news before jogging back upstairs to wake up my kids. It’s refreshing and makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something even before the day has begun.
One of our favorite sources for this is theSkimm. Their motto is “making it easier for you to be smarter.” The ladies behind it recap (in an entertaining way) the previous days news for you in one little email. You can sign up on their site, here. Sometimes their commentary can be slightly slanted, but it’s easy to weed through.
If you want more localized news, look into what your local newspapers offer. In Utah, for instance, The Salt Lake Tribune’s political reporters email a little daily briefing called Political Cornflakes. Andrea originally subscribed to it years ago as a press secretary and still reads it daily to get the scoop on national and Utah politics.
Do a quick Internet search to find out what your local news offers. You’ll be surprised at how easy your local news outlets want to make it for you to stay informed too.
“Alexa, what’s today’s news?”
Yep, Alexa can do more than just tell your kids corny jokes. While you’re going about your day, take a second to ask your Echo (we like the Echo dot) what’s up. My daily “flash briefings” are usually 2-3 minutes and include soundbites from various news stations across the country. Don’t worry, we’re not here to endorse Amazon’s Echo. We just like the simplicity in getting the news this way.
In fact, there are other products just like Echo that have the same purpose. Google has one called Home, and Apple and Microsoft reportedly have something similar in the works too. With one of these gadgets, to get the news you literally don’t have to lift a finger.
Do you live in your car? Constantly carting your kids from soccer to piano lessons? Try listening to something worthwhile on the radio while you run your kids all across town. Go here to find your local radio news programs.
Then, kill two birds with one stone and make the most of your car time by starting a discussion with your kids about what you’ve been listening to and how they can improve the world around you. I bet you’ll get a kick out of some of their responses.
Yaaawn! I know, this sound so dull. But along with getting a daily recap sent to your email, how about a newsletter from the White House or your Member of Congress? Don’t worry, these ones won’t flood your inbox. In fact, most congressional newsletters are quarterly and so far the White House ones I’ve received have only been once a week or so. The congressional ones are a good way to stay up to date on what’s going on in your district, what your congressman is doing, and often list opportunities to connect with them in upcoming events.
Spend two minutes doing something worthwhile before you dive into whatever else it is you like to do. Every night after my kids are finally in bed, my husband and I breath a big sigh of relief and sit down on the couch to unwind. Before tuning in to our favorite shows, my husband likes to watch at least 15 minutes of news.
This used to drive me bonkers, especially when I’d get done working long hours in a congressional office where it seemed like I was bombarded with current events all day. Now that I’m home with my kids full-time, I love that he does this and feel bad that I used to get annoyed with him about it. Moms aren’t the only ones who feel out of the loop and want a touch of reality.
If TV watching after your kids are in bed isn’t your thing, how about during nap time? Or during your lunch break at work? I usually hop on the computer at some point during the sacred napping hour. Before I check Facebook or my favorite blogs I usually take a few minutes to quickly browse my favorite news sites. Easy as that.
If you can apply one or two of these news gathering tips into your daily routine, you’ll be one step ahead of a lot of people. You’ll be surprised at how being in the know impacts your daily life and helps you see the world through a new lens.
If you’re concerned about a bias media not giving the news a fair shake, try getting your news from a variety of sources instead of just one. The bias in the media is a bit, well, bias. Both Andrea and I were journalism majors in college and we were taught basic rules about leaving our opinion and slant out of the story. Apparently 99% of the journalists today choose to ignore that rule.
If you go to one website (MSNBC, for example), it looks like the world is ending. If you go to another (say, FOX News), everything is hunky dory. So what’s the real story? Most likely, it’s something in between. Getting your news from multiple sources will help you to read between the slanted lines.
News Sources for school-aged kids?
Does anyone remember Channel One News? Veteran reporters Anderson Cooper and Lisa Ling got their starts there. I remember watching it every morning during my 1st period class in middle school. Well, it still exists and is shown to thousands of middle and high school students across the country every day.
At my son’s elementary school, a few minutes before they leave to go home, they watch news-o-matic on an iPad. It’s a super kid friendly version of the news. My son loves it and spouts off random facts throughout the week of things he has learned! If you don’t have it, call your local schools to advocate for school news for your area!
Remember, the safest place for our children to learn about what’s going on in the world is from you. Don’t take it lightly. If you don’t set it to them straight, they often learn untrue, confusing, and twisted facts from their peers. Make it a nightly ritual at dinnertime to discuss what’s going on in your town, state or the country. Your kids will feel more informed and safer, and so will you.
Make staying informed on current events a priority! This is your world. You should have a part in it. And your friends might be impressed at the insights you have to offer when your next conversation turns to the news of the day.
Are you good at staying informed on current events? What are you favorite ways to get the news?
Former White House and Capitol Hill staffer, wife, and mom.