There was probably a time when keeping up with the news was easy. Back in the good ol’ days, when people read the Sunday paper and there was about as much space devoted to the Big Game as to politics as a concept.
Now, there are many reasons it is not easy at all. Such as: it constantly seems like the most insane event in the history of the world just took place, and then three minutes later something even crazier happens. Also, everything has been happening for so long and it’s so hard to catch up and does anyone know what Israel and Palestine comes down to or are we all just too scared to ask. Also also, the economy is so boring.
But there is one thing that makes it unbelievably easy, and that thing is in your hand or pocket or the space between your bed and the wall right now. It is called a smartphone, and it makes it impossible to believe that people ever managed to get their news exclusively from comically large stacks of paper with stories printed in size 8 Times New Roman once a week.
Here’s how I manage to keep up with the news and have bare minimum 18% comprehension on what it means, while also being the laziest individual on the planet Earth.
1. Email subscriptions
There is not a person in the world who enjoys constant emails, but here we are. I subscribe to three email news things, but there are approximately infinity of them if none of these suit your fancy.
One: theSkimm. It goes out every weekday morning at a ridiculously early hour, tries really hard to be funny and #relatable, and comes with celebrity recommendations from the likes of Trevor Noah, Sarah Jessica Parker, and OPRAH. Yes. Oprah.
Two: the Post Most. There are a lot of ways to get the Washington Post in your inbox. The one I went with sends out links to the most popular stories of the day.
Three: the New York Times Evening Briefing. This goes out every weekday around dinnertime and tends to rank stories in order of significance, which is fun for if you don’t have roughly four minutes to read something.
2. Have favorite news sites (and maybe – gasp – pay)
Paying for things is disgusting. But it at least helps to have website preferences for those times when you see something that hints at a news story and want/need to find out more info. For example: When someone says “Did you hear what Trump did today?” and you can sneakily say yes while actually typing cnn.com into the Safari app on your phone to figure it out.
For sites with paywalls (the New York Times, for example, lets non-subscribers view a mere 10 articles a month), you may want to cough up the cash.
A lot of newspapers offer a student discount, because the Venn diagram between “fan of knowledge” and “needs things to cost less money” is exclusively the currently-in-college demographic. Find a list of them here.
3. Twitter, shockingly
I have a Twitter account. I do not tweet from it, which is surprising primarily because of my obsession with hearing myself talk (reading myself write?). Rather, I use it to follow news sources (the Associated Press, CNN), individual journalists (Jake Tapper, Maggie Haberman), and people whose political takes I like (Jon Favreau, Jon Lovett).
Also every comedian I’ve laughed at even once, and one meme account, for flair.
4. Weekly magazines??
In a twist no one saw coming, weekly subscription magazines still exist. In a double twist, they can be really helpful. And also cheap. I subscribed to the New Yorker for $12, and will get 12 magazines and a tote! Now I can be the pretentious person at the coffee shop with the New Yorker bag who looks like they really have their life together. (There’s also a digital subscription option if you’re a big tree fan.)
The Week, which has funny sections I used to read in seventh grade for some reason, will give you four free issues even if you cancel payment on them like the scammer you are.
I am a huge podcast fan. Granted this rarely extends outside of an extremely narrow niche of LA-based improv comedy and the occasional true crime, but I am a big fan of some political ones too. There’s the Crooked Media empire (Pod Save America, Lovett or Leave It, Pod Save the People, With Friends Like These, and seemingly infinity more); the New York Times’ The Daily; NPR’s All Things Considered; and so, so, so, so, sosososo many more.
Seriously. So many more.
It seems like a wildly daunting task to understand even a tenth of what’s going on current-events wise today, but you’d be surprised. Just a couple of these options can give you baseline knowledge that will make you feel way smarter. Maybe not safer, or less anxious about the state of the world, but definitely smarter.
Also, you’ll be way better equipped when that one friend keeps dropping obscure news stories into the conversation. And honestly, it’s about time for Sarah to realize that she’s not the only one who checks CNN in the morning.