I used to get my news from the same places most other people do: free news sites, social media, and whatever happens to be on TV. My experience with that wasn’t great. First of all, news sites are riddled with ads. Most of the page is filled with blocks of advertisements with small pockets of article around surrounding them. Pop-up ads make the reading experience even worse. Second, the articles aren’t great. When reading a news article, I expect the content to be real, not misleading, and written in such a way that doesn’t leave me worked up. These free news sources never seemed to curate their articles by what’s most relevant; I felt like I was being shown articles that would get the most clicks, and therefore never felt like I was getting a full picture of what was going on in the world.
After the 2020 presidential election and the events of January 6, 2021, I decided I was tired of the experience of free news. I made a bold choice to subscribe to digital and print editions of The Wall Street Journal. For $50/month, I would pay for quality news articles, curated by journalists who care about delivering true and clear information. What I found was that I enjoyed reading a newspaper a lot more than I thought I would, and I found myself much less worked up over the news and much more informed. I got the paper six days per week, and after some time passed, I started to recognize articles as developments in larger stories going on in the world. I found myself looking at free news and social media less.
I also found that curation was a lot more important to me than I thought. The news which the editors thought was most important was printed in the paper, with the most important articles on the front page. It felt like a well-rounded source of news, rather than a narrow look of what was going on in the world. And with a newspaper, there’s no endlessly scrolling list of content. Once you’ve read what you want, you can move on with your day. It’s not addictive like free digital content can be; it feels like a healthy way to consume content. This is the way everyone should get their news.
I also have a subscription to The New York Times though NC State University. It’s quite different than the Journal, appealing to a different crowd. Their audience is liberal, and the articles they bring to the front are those which they think are the most important to that audience. But what’s important to the Times’ readers aren’t the same as what’s important to the Journal’s readers. The Wall Street Journal curates articles for economic and business-minded people. It’s a conservative newspaper that elevates stories that could affect your wallet. I have to say I enjoy reading the Journal much more; the stories they pick to publish feel far more relevant than the social justice stories the Times has to offer.
I don’t mean to say that free news is necessarily lacking quality. There are certainly organizations out there that do good investigative journalism. But it’s important to know the difference between good journalism and cheap blogs. In an era of fake news and yellow journalism, it’s crucial for people in this country to keep a level head and seek what will keep them sharp and informed.