8 Ways For The Average Zillennial To Safely Consume The News

consuming news safely

This article was written by The Zillennial Zine’s summer intern
Olivia Charlson. Find her on Instagram at @olivialee2000. If you would like to share an article with The Zillennial, send us an email at thezillennialzine@gmail.com.

As a journalism student in my final year, I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t find keeping up with current events easy. Keeping yourself informed is something we should all be trying to do. Honestly, though, it feels like the world is — I don’t know — on fire. It can be difficult to enjoy your life and focus on mental wellness while also being bombarded with politics. Knowing what’s happening politically and culturally is still going to affect your life even if you ignore it. When I was in high school, I only knew about the country’s news through word of mouth because I had no idea how to navigate the internet. I try to stay on top of it in my own style now. It’s important to consume news regularly (and mindfully). Here’s what I’ve learned about consuming news safely.

Know your sources

 
 
 
 
 
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One of the easiest ways to start consuming news is by having a few reliable news sources that you can turn to. I am guilty of hearing about something and just using Google News to see the first results that show up. However, having sources that are recognizable can help. Sometimes people are too quick to blame misinformation as a reason not to trust any news sources, but sources like PBS News are not the same as the articles you might read on Facebook. I would recommend people to find their own news outlets. Remember to read beyond the headline. Search a website’s name and even using sites like Wikipedia will help determine if it’s a scam. You can even check whether a news source is right-leaning or left-leaning with Google or websites like AllSides.

Follow local news

 
 
 
 
 
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Knowing what’s happening in your own state, city and county will help you know the problems that may directly affect you. I don’t expect the average citizen to sit through city council meetings (there will be drama, but it’s not exactly a good time). It can be good, however, to see the see the highlights of the decisions made in those meetings. I follow some of the biggest news sites in my state, but I’ve always found that I respond more to news covering a small area. The news source in my small town is always good to check up on and it doesn’t require a subscription. If you go to college, take the time to look up your college’s newspaper, broadcast news and even see if there’s a radio program. This will be covering issues that you’ll face.

Use social media thoughtfully

 
 
 
 
 
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Social media is quick. It’s even how a lot of professionals break news these days. I personally find that it helps to follow a few news and political sources so that I can casually keep informed while scrolling through other media. However, going through post after post of something I personally find to be a miserable subject can feel detrimental to my mental well-being. Using social media to your advantage is good, but beware. Don’t rely on just your explore page or what people have to say on Twitter.

Using free sources and when to commit to a subscription

 
 
 
 
 
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One of my least favorite exercises in my classes is the question “what are some of your favorite news sources.” Some of my peers will go down a list and start naming their subscriptions and when I first heard this I was a little overwhelmed. It typically takes me two weeks of staring at the picture before I’ll commit to buying a shirt online. When you first get into researching, starting with sources that don’t have a paywall like The Guardian can take away that frustration of seeing your free articles are up. Nonprofit organizations like Unicorn Riot are also an option if you can’t afford more. However, if you are committed to trying to consume news more often, subscriptions are not a bad thing. Paying for your news ensures that it will be there and that you can access the articles you want, you just have to consider which site is for you.

Podcasts

 
 
 
 
 
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How many of us actually have time to sit down and read more than one article anymore? And I don’t know many people in their early 20’s who watch cable news either. That’s why I love a good podcast. It’s the best kind of background noise. I have my favorites of comedy shows, but adding a few current event episodes to my list feels good every once in a while. NPR has a vast selection of podcasts, giving you options whether you want to listen to five minutes worth, 13 minutes worth or a deep dive on something specific.

Videos

 
 
 
 
 
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It’s OK to take it one subject at a time. I find videos that teach me about one system in place to be a good way to spend lunch. You can find lots of different subjects on Vox’s Youtube channel. You can use humor to deflect about learning something harsh. Shows like Last Week Tonight got me through learning about COVID while quarantine was anxiety inducing.

Documentaries

 
 
 
 
 
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It’s good to be aware of the social injustices and long-time problems that have affected our countries. I find sitting down and trying to watch a documentary every once in a while a healthy reminder. Documentaries like 13th can teach you something while still holding your interest.

Know when your local elections are coming up

 
 
 
 
 
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Sometimes you have to take a break from the news. That’s ok. If the only thing you consume on all of your platforms is bleak, then it can be bad for you. Safely consuming the news is a practice that takes a bit of a learning curve. But regardless of how you choose to proceed, knowing when your local elections are happening is important. The world’s problems will affect your own life in one form or another. Though not all of us have the time, the mental well-being or the means to protest, making sure we know what’s going on and when we can vote is a step in the right direction.

Have anyways to keep your head up when sifting through the doom and gloom of the daily news? Let us know in the comments below!

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