How To Keep Up With The News

How To Keep Up With The News In 5 Minutes

There is something inexplicably magical about a newspaper.

The crinkle of the thin newsprint. The black residue left on your fingers. The smell that can only be described as ‘newspapery.’

And while I can go on and on about the paper’s tactile qualities, it’s the contents that really draw me in.

It’s the whole world, in this moment of time, captured for history. Images. Reports. In-depth features. Opinions.

The days I get to read the news, in its entire papery glory, are few and far between (usually when I’m traveling, sans Rho, noshing on room service in bed).

But I do make it a habit of reading the news every day, without fail. It’s decidedly less glamorous, but it’s a habit I’m fanatical about keeping. Even if it’s my performing an article (voices and all) about the ruins of Palmyra to my son as he drinks his morning milk.

Which may or may not have happened yesterday morning.

In any case, here’s how to form a very essential news reading habit – no matter your current status.

For The Absolute Beginners

The Skimm is, without a doubt, the best place to start if you’ve never had a news habit. It’s a perfect summary of everything you need to know, written in a way that’s easy to digest in your pre-caffeinated state. Best of all, it fits nicely in with a go-through-email-before-getting-out-of-bed habit.

C’mon. I know you do it too.

Reading The Skimm every morning is the sole reason I have a news reading habit now. Trust. Go sign up if you haven’t already (and if you have, start reading it every day).

For Skimm-ers Who Want Something More

If you’re looking for more (international news, writing style, or content), you’re in luck. There are some amazing daily digests produced by the world’s leading media outlets.

Let’s start with what’s free – namely, the New York Times Morning Briefing and The Week newsletter. The Week is a meatier version of The Skimm, sending 10 headlines and summaries of the stories you need to know today. Like The Skimm, it directs you to full links from a variety of other publishers (CNN, Associated Press, etc).

The NYT Morning Briefing replaced the NYT Now app, and I was a massive fan of the latter. I loved how it highlighted the must-read stories in the day’s paper with articles written elsewhere. The Morning Briefing only features NYT articles.

Thanks to my husband’s Economist subscription, I can also access The Economist Espresso for free. It summarizes the must-read 5 international stories of the day (as well as financial market data that may as well be Greek to me). Each mini-article is written in The Economist’s tell-tale dry voice, which never fails to make me chuckle. At $3.99 a month, I think it’s worth the investment.

Especially when you’re able to name drop the Panama Papers before anyone else in a random conversation.

For Wannabe News Junkies

I get it. You’re short on time, and reading the entire paper can take a while.

Let alone 2-3 papers that people *ahem, husband* manage to get through on a daily basis. (Husband also wakes up at 4 am every day, which is how he gets through the NYT, WSJ, and FT on every. single. day. I would hate him, except that he brings me tea in bed every day).

I digress. I’m about to share my secret to faking like you read the entire paper every day.

  1. Read The Economist Espresso in its entirety.
  2. Skim the front page section of either the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal.
  3. Read the editorials in both the NYT and the WSJ.
  4. Skim the Life section (in the WSJ) and the Style & Business sections (in the NYT), reading the articles that jump at you.

I also skim the International section in the Times, to get a handle on what’s going on globally (and to help identify new charities to reach out to on behalf of Bridge2Act). This whole routine takes me around 30 minutes. While I rarely get through it all before Rho wakes up, I do manage to read through these sections throughout the day.

News reading is an excellent way to spend a Pomodoro break, you know. I highly recommend it.

I’d love to know – what are your must-reads every morning? Do you read the physical paper, or are you a digital consumer of news. COMMENT below and let me know!

  • Timely post. I *just* got a new gig that’s going to necessitate keeping up on news in general, business/economy news in particular, and both sides of the political spectrum if possible. I feel like Jacobin and The Economist are good balancers of each other.

    Also I’m going to be traveling a LOT for this job and could probably help you out with an En Route With post at some point. Do let me know. =)

    • hithaonthego

      That’s awesome! And I would LOVE to get your En Route With feature on this site. Shoot me an e-mail – hitha (at) hithaonthego (dot) com

  • Jessie Buckmaster

    I’m an avid Skimm-er. It is the first email I read every day, it has helped me so much in daily conversation! And I’d love to read a physical paper again, I just don’t have time in the mornings, but I’ve been toying with subscribing to a Sunday edition of something. My personal online favorites are the Atlantic (I mean does it get better than Ta-Nehisi Coates?? Also they have a daily email blast called CityLab with a construction/architecture/urban planning focus for nerds like me) and The Guardian, but UK version. I find outside perspectives of US news are preferrable. And then of course, I love me some Trevor Noah on the Daily Show. And I need to start watching John Oliver some more as well.

    • hithaonthego

      I’m sad to admit that I don’t love Trevor Noah – I feel like he goes for the quick joke, versus educate and outrage the way Jon Stewart (and subsequently John Oliver and Samantha Bee) did so well. But when he does compare the US to Africa, it’s gold.

      The Atlantic (and Ta-Nehisi Coates) is GOLD. I need to figure out how to add it to my regular reading. Thanks for the tip on the UK version of The Guardian!

    • Yeah CityLab!! Also great for transit nerds. ;)

      • Jessie Buckmaster

        Yessss! I work in sustainable construction so it’s my jam! :D

  • Julia

    I agree with you on the importance of reading the news! One of my professors got me hooked on it. I also like to add variety in my news sources. It’s very interesting to read the same story (for instance, US elections) from NYT Now and BBC News. Even though the press is supposed to remain unbiased, I find that I can understand the world’s problems a little better when I read different point of views. Additionally, Vox.com, whose tagline is “Explain the News” is great at breaking down complex global issues in terms that are easy to understand, as well as providing important background information to specific news stories.

    • hithaonthego

      BBC News is excellent! If they ever launched a NYT Now-esque app, I’d be all over it. Vox is also amazing (all of their properties are – Eater, Racked, etc). You have a great news consumption habit!

    • Taking just one source for understanding a problem is always a big problem. You always need different thoughts to build your own :)

  • graceatwood

    Oh my god thank you so much for this! I don’t have cable so I struggle with how to best keep up with the news. So nice hanging out last night BTW! xo

    • hithaonthego

      My pleasure! NYT Now is my jam. I *think* Rho even enjoys my reading it.

      Loved our dinner last night. Let’s please try to do it more often :)

  • ErinKwed

    I love NYT Now and The Skimm but have been wishing for more International — great tip on the Economist!

    • hithaonthego

      I’m glad you like it! International news doesn’t get its fair representation, and this app definitely makes it easier :)

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  • Tammy

    Checking out the NYT app right now! Thank you for dropping your knowledge and keeping noobs like me up to date on how to be bad ass like you.

    I’ve been an avid Skimm-er for a while now but felt that I needed more. NYT and The Week will be my next stops!

    • Tammy

      Oh man :( I just saw that the free NYT Now app will be going away soon to integrate with the NYTimes app that may require the subscription to read more than 10 articles. Maybe I’ll start with the email briefings. Have you migrated yet?

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