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Most reliable news sources?

by elityre1 min read6th Jun 202015 comments

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I've longed assumed that the vast majority of what the news discusses is irrelevant in the long run, and not that well reported at that. But the world seems to be moving faster these days, and I have more of a sense that I want to know what happened this week, because it might impact what I do next week.

For the first time in my life, I have some inclination to follow current events as they happen. And I find that I don't really know how to do that.

What are the most reliable / least-politicized news sources?

In particular, I want a resource that I can refer to that will tell me what happened in the past 3 days, in as factual and unbiased a way as possible. I expect that I might have to do further research, to get context for the events. But to start, I want a place where I can go that will tell me what happened, with a minimum of narrativizing, political outrage, etc.

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While an institution's reliability and bias can shift over time, I think AP and Reuters currently fit the bill. They report the facts the most reliably of any big-name general news sources I know of, without very much analysis or opinion. Their political leaning is nearly neutral or balanced, but maybe on the left side of the line (Reuters might be slightly less biased than AP, but still on the left side).

The Wall Street Journal is a little bit less reliable on the facts, also centrist, and on the right side of the line due to their business focus. If you read this too, it may help you counterbalance AP's and Reuters' slight left bias without going to the unreliable right-wing extremist sources.

If you want only one source, The Hill is about as nonpartisan as it gets (maybe a bit less reliable on the facts than the WSJ, but still pretty good). Their focus is, in their words, "on the inner workings of Congress and the nexus of politics and business".

[Epistemic status: I looked at the Ad Fontes Media Bias Chart. Exactly how impartial their judgements are, I can't say, but they do seem to try. Media Bias/Fact Check mostly agrees with these judgements, but I don't think they're any more reliable.]

That said, even an "impartial" news source (to the extent there is such a thing) is going to give you a very distorted view of the word due to selection biases. "Newsworthy" stories are, by their nature, rare occurrences, and will tend to amplify your availability bias. Don't lose sight of base rates. Our World in Data should be worth exploring for that reason. They publish what they think is important rather than what is new.

I skim the headlines for several topics on news.google.com. I read the Wikipedia current events portal. Stat is good for more depth, but covers fewer topics.

The Economist ($) for non-Western events and live macroeconomics. They generally foreground the most important thing that happens every week, wherever it happens to occur. They pack the gist into a two page summary, "The World this Week". Their slant is pro-market pro-democracy pro-welfare pro-rights, rarely gets in the way. The obituaries are often extremely moving.

https://www.economist.com/the-world-this-week/

AP, Reuters, Bloomberg, Pew Research, Bureau of Investigative Journalism.

FT and Economist have degraded somewhat but still good.

While the current events portal on Wikipedia has already been mentioned, I prefer the much more concise annual summary pages which I check monthly. The page gets updated quickly with any major events that happen in the world.

The Financial Times, maybe FiveThirtyEight

hedonometer.org is a quick way to check if something big has happened

Naked Capitalism produces a very good daily roundup from (usually) reputable sources, well worth a skim through.

https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/

Project syndicate provides in-depth coverage of current events

https://www.project-syndicate.org/

https://indianpunchline.com/ and https://supchina.com/ provide counter-narrative views on events in their respective countries

Reuters is my "just the facts" RSS feed of choice - but I understand the Associated Press (AP) also plays a similar role as a newswire service reporting bare facts on the ground, which other outlets then often use as their source for longer articles that add context and analysis.

That said, I usually just skim through Reuters' headlines, as the article is often just the same basic atom of fact as the headline, elaborated out into more words.

The articles I read the full text of come from a spread of other outlets with different biases. Nothing off on the fringe that would fabricate stories - just mainstream outlets with enough of a reputation to uphold that I don't expect they'd try to outright lie.