I am often asked to recommend what I think are the most useful media outlets to help people who want to follow politics and current events. I don’t have a simple answer to this question, but I will suggest some good Internet sources that will help you learn more about politics, find answers to vexing questions, and help you choose candidates to support.
Newspapers remain one of the most important sources of journalistic reporting. They employ large teams of writers and editors and spend more time than most other media outlets checking facts, editing, and otherwise polishing stories to provide a solid finished product. Newspapers may not report stories as fast as some other sources, but they are among the most reliable places to find answers to the essential who, what, when, where, and how questions.
Local and regional papers vary in their strength and depth. Depending on where you live, you may have access to a great paper with a strong team of reporters.
I recommend the following national newspapers as reputable sources of information. The ideological slant of their editorial pages varies widely, but all of these organizations have well-deserved reputations for solid reporting.
- Washington Post
- New York Times (limited online access)
- Christian Science Monitor
- Wall Street Journal (subscription only)
Online Political News
Some news organizations, like Politico and ProPublica listed below, are Internet based. They offer access to information in a range of formats and have fewer concerns about space limitations than traditional print formats.
- Politico – good coverage of a wide range of political topics
- ProPublica – excellent investigative journalism
- Hotline Blog – inside scoop on politics, emphasis on elections
Fact-checking organizations are getting significant attention this election cycle, and I am delighted. In the midst of a combative campaign, it is difficult to know what claims to believe and what claims to discount. These sites offer a variety of ways for you to check out a statistic mentioned in a speech, test the accuracy of claims made in campaign ads, verify if the ominous message in an email is indeed true, and other similar uses.
The quality of political blogs ranges quite widely, but these can be good sources to help you follow the latest arguments and claims from both sides of the political spectrum. Most blogs have a clear ideological slant and focus on presenting one side of an argument. You won’t find a lot of facts, and you’ll rarely find charitable discussions of opposing views, but you can learn a lot from reading opinion pieces. Just keep in mind that opinions typically give you one version of a much more complex story. To learn the most from political blogs, read both conservative and liberal opinions on the same issue.