A large part of my morning routine, as it likely is for most of you, is to catch up on the news I might have missed the night before. A few years ago this felt like a much simpler task: some RSS, some Twitter, done. I felt well informed using just a few tools and getting news which was highly tailored to me, or what I thought mattered to me.
Fast forward to 2017, and my routine has changed greatly. I can’t use Twitter for news — hell I can hardly stand to read it. Twitter is a cesspool of bullshit, attention grabbing links, and it’s not where you get quality news — rather Twitter is where you get the same bullshit you would see on cable news.
I’ve written how apps like Quartz and Economist Espresso are game changers for me, but as the USA continues down a path of madness, I’ve found myself wanting to get more news. RSS used to be my go to for this, but then most sites decided to either:
- cripple their RSS feeds, or not properly maintain them leading to posts not showing up in a timely manner;
- or sites have started posting so much content, as to make sifting through their RSS feeds a full time job.
For both those reasons there is no point in subscribing to sites like The New York Times, or The Washington Post in your RSS reader. All of this sent me on a search: finding quality, timely, and relevant news.
If ever there was a time I needed good AI in my life, this is it.
The system I’ve come up with is messy, time consuming, and rather absurd. Here’s how I collect my daily news in the morning:
I start my mornings with my email, something I had worked hard to rid myself of in the past, but which is beginning to prove that it is one of the best ways to get more relevant news. I subscribe to:
- Seattle Times Morning Brief: This is my main source for a mix of local news and important national news. They do a great job of culling the information and condensing it down.
- Nuzzel’s Newsletter: Grab the app, and then set it to send you a morning recap. This way you don’t have to wade through all the normal crap on Twitter.
- Aeon Magazine: Usually a good source of interesting news — less OMG the world is ending and more, this could really happen.
- Next Draft: This is kind of like a filtered Firehose. If nerds are upset about it, Next Draft will have the best links distilling the information for me.
- Now I Know: One of my favorite newsletters, it is pure trivia and it’s a great 3 minute (or so) escape each morning.
These five newsletters provide me with almost all the morning uptake I need. And they do so in, for a lack of a better word, a polite fashion.
After I spin through my email, I rely on a few apps throughout the day to keep me informed.
- Quartz: Let’s say I step out of a place where I was disconnected for a long period of time and I want to know what has happened. Quartz’s app is the app I would turn to first. They don’t always have the best/most interesting news, but they are timely and cover the hot topics well. I look at it about once or twice a day. Usually (funnily enough) not in the morning. Typically this is my lunch and late evening news source.
- Economist Espresso: I love this app. It’s one of the best subscriptions I have, and consistently provides excellent news coverage. I read each of the stories Monday – Saturday. It is very well done.
- Apple News: I know, hear me out. I personally have tons of issues with Apple News, but I deleted out all of my subscriptions and tried again and now I have something which is somewhat informational. Here’s what I use Apple News for: finding little gems within the cesspool that has become most major news outlets. This way it is not cluttering my RSS feeds, but I can still see what CNN and The New York Times posts. The morning news, and like sections, also do a reasonable job of allowing you to headline skim.
- narwhal: This is a Reddit client, but is also the best/only way you should use Reddit. I have two “multi-reddits” one is for browsing through when I am bored, and the other is for news. This tends to give me a greater perspective on world news than most of my other sources of information. It can also be completely overwhelming, so I don’t often use it or rely on it. Unless of course I am bored, them my bored multi-reddit is fantastic.
Most of the other apps I have tried just don’t pass the sniff test.
Last, but not least, RSS. I’ve been a heavy RSS user longer than I have been a Mac user (and now having outlasted my use of a Mac, but sure RSS is the one dying). I use FeedWrangler and Reeder to consume all of my RSS feeds on iOS. Here’s the thing about how I use RSS: there’s no “news” in my RSS feeds. I listed out the many reasons why above, but I’ve also shifted RSS to being my personal interest area.
It’s the few tech blogs I read, sites talking about backpacks and other sites which aren’t updated more than a couple times a day. I read through everything in there everyday, but I work hard to make sure there are simply not that many things in there everyday.
This is the best system I have found for trying to only see the more sane news coverage, staying up to day, and avoiding the bullshit. Again, we need some AI powered news apps.