One of the things I have noticed about the way people consume news is that brand names mean more than content. Even when admitting that content is of utmost importance, brands still float on top when such things as “I tune into CNN, because they are unbiased”, or “I read the New York Times because they have great coverage” are said. Even though I feel these two statements in particular are true, this type of brand selection is nevertheless susceptible to media bias, because you wind up following specific journalists and editors and for many people, whether they want to admit it or not, this means that they are leaving the formation of their opinions to someone else.
Of course on the Internet you have the token redundancy, every news channel has a web site, but some web sites provide some alternatives in the form of customizable alerts. Yahoo for instance, provides a free service called Yahoo Alerts, where you can specify keywords, just as you do when running a search. Then you save the alert and from then on out, Yahoo will periodically scan the internet for news pertaining to the keywords you specified. Then all you have to do is go to your alert page on Yahoo and view a collection of headlines with links to news articles pertaining to the keywords you specified. You can also have Yahoo deliver your alerts to your e-mail.
Another approach that I like is to direct my alerts to an RSS feed. Unfortunately, Yahoo doesn’t do this although I have suggested it to them via their “suggestion box”. But there is another service called
HighBeam Research (formerly Electric Library), that also provides an alerts service, but this one allows you to direct the results into your own RSS newsfeed, which you can pick up with any RSS compatible news aggregator.
Unlike Yahoo, Highbeam requires a monthly subscription which I think is too high for a what you get, especially now that they are starting to advertise. So I’m looking for a new alert service that can dump to RSS. If you happen to see any, let me know.
I’m currently using Newz Crawler 1.7 which works well for me, but there are many news aggregators to choose from, many of them free.
So take control of your news, be your own brand and track your own stories. Use alert services and you will find that as you track these stories, with minimal effort, you will get many perspectives and you will naturally develop a deeper insight. This is putting content before brand and this is especially important in today’s world where we have become so saturated with information that we are loosing our ability to know anything. As Albert Einstein once said, “information is not knowledge.”