The world is a big place. Every day, dozens of relevant news stories break across the globe: economics, politics, diplomacy, military maneuvers, sports and entertainment, to mention just a few categories. While the information revolution has made it easier to find whatever you’re searching for, the tremendous amount of information available makes it difficult to know where to start for broad categories.
A person can spend hours watching cable news and still have no idea what’s happening on the other side of the world. After all, the current administration often demands our attention — a call which many cable news stations have heeded with gusto. We find ourselves continually sucked into the maelstrom of scandal, presidential gaffes and general civil unrest at home, and we neglect our chances to keep abreast of crucial and repercussive international events.
The Dreaded Filter Bubble
Millions of us fall into the filter bubble that our favorite news sources create for us. While this is undoubtedly partially causing the partisan divide — with news sources pushing for the margins of the political spectrum through popular demand — that is a separate problem entirely. What watching and reading from the same news sources does on an individual level is just as dangerous.
Like most businesses, news sources have specific demographics for their primary markets. Appealing to these markets means more viewers and better ratings. When these news sources are US-based corporations, with audiences rooted in America, their coverage will primarily focus on American news and events. When you combine widely domestic coverage with the most chaotic and scandal-riddled presidency in recent history, international news never has a fighting chance.
Yet, the importance of international news perhaps outweighs that of domestic news many times. In fact, we live in the largest global economy in the world, and our well-being is intrinsically connected to hundreds of other countries. The US also holds the single most expensive and advanced fighting force in the world and tends to make ripples in other countries. We also compete in international sporting events — the Olympics just wrapped up — and hold a position of prominence in global diplomacy.
If a pebble hits the ground in China, someone in the US government will probably know who threw it. As citizens of that same government, we owe it to ourselves to have a basic knowledge of the larger international churnings. For this reason, it’s extremely self-centered to only follow the domestic news: Failing to understand what’s happening with our neighbors leads to uninformed voting decisions and support for the same domestic political candidates who have led to our current political situation.
To break this cycle — poor candidates, elected through political ignorance, sucking up media attention and diverting our attention from the importance of international relations — it’s necessary that we stay informed. Diversifying one’s sources of news is important, and there are a few great options for staying globally informed.
The Best Sources
For the very best in foreign relations, it’s hard to beat Foreign Policy. Subscription is free, and subscribers get a daily summary of the largest international events, including links to more in-depth articles. It also features great op-eds from prominent online journalists. Perhaps most importantly, it covers news from all over — giving due diligence to the most important developments at home as well as abroad.
As far as blogs are concerned, there are a few offshoots of the mainstream news that feature surprisingly insightful individual contributions and put a much greater emphasis on the importance of international relations than their parent corporations.
“Monkey Cage” — a branch of the Washington Post — is one of the best international politics blogs out there, featuring prominent political bloggers in world economics, foreign relations specialists and international scholars. Posts are typically well-informed and take interesting perspectives on current issues.
An individual must take it upon themselves to stay informed. With the amount of white noise in mainstream media, it’s easy to stay distracted from the importance of international news. After all, cable news and the most popular news sites make money from drawing your attention, and they’ve become very good at doing exactly that. A simple Google search can open your eyes to the monumental international events happening today.
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