*How to Watch and Read the News*
By: Gottin Himmel
26 August 2013

The mainstream media has a public confidence level that is even lower than the President's these days. Journalists are suffering (rightly) from their self-inflicted black eyes. On the other hand, they have their uses. You just have to know how to weed out the solid reporting from the raving idiocy.

I tend to lean toward newspapers, online news sites, and shortwave radio. I pulled the plug on TV a few years ago. With that caveat in mind, please read on.

Alternative-news websites and radio programs have their place, but there is one thing their consumers need to keep in mind: Even they are in the business of making money at the expense of the gullible. Too many fall prey to the urge to whip up black-helicopter frenzy.

It feels good to get riled up and angry at TPTB. There's a certain adrenaline rush that goes with it. "By golly, they lied to us, I'm madder than hail, and I'm not going to take it" is a pretty normal response to the news. And, let's face it, there is a definite coolness factor in being a rebel.

Don't fall for it. Somebody is trying to pick your pocket while you're in the throes of your hissy fit. There is more than one reason why the black-helo radio shows broadcast at night. For one thing, air time is cheaper. For another, their listeners have worked all day and are tired. Critical thinking takes a nosedive when you're getting ready to sleep.

Ranting and raving might feel really motivating, but emotions don't help you make rational choices.

This is why you absolutely need to get your news from more than one source. Back in the old days, a good, solid, news story was based on at least three sources. Following the same procedure still works for journalists and news consumers today.

If you don't like American news outlets, you have the choice of many foreign sources on the Internet and on the radio. Your TV news sources in the U.S. and Canada are very limited. Some are better than others, so that's where getting the story from at least three sources give you a better picture of what is really going on.

The wire services, such as the Associated Press, Reuters, and Agence France Press, get snubbed by preparedness-minded folks. Granted, a lot of their content is written by freelance reporters known as stringers. Yea, verily, they have their own personal agendas many times.

On the other hand, a lot of stringers have broad past experience in a particular area of the news. They have become experts of a sort over the years.

Pay attention to the quality of the writing, too. Bad spelling and uncertain punctuation are only part of it. If you find yourself frequently re-reading a sentence trying to make sense of what the writer is saying, this may indicate a lack of experience. Good reporters make their reputations on the clarity of their writing.

Beware of quotes that contain a lot of dots, also known as ellipses. Sometimes some words need to be taken out of a sentence to make it shorter and more readable. They can also be removed to twist what a person actually said.

International news services, such as the BBC, Reuters, the International Business Times, and Agence France Press, usually run stories written by reporters who live in-country at various spots around the world. The military calls that "boots on the ground." On the Rubicon, we call that "FNV."

Read articles from business-related sites, too. Their content isn't just about international trade and commodities markets (but those come in handy, too). Most have national and world news articles in a separate section, often broken up by region.

The better international and national websites usually offer free content limited in its depth and coverage. By registering as a user, you gain access to more material. For a small fee, you get even more articles from them. If you're concerned about privacy, use a disposable email address. This may not keep government agencies from tracking your Web-viewing activity, but it will slow down hackers and eliminate that dreaded avalanche of spam.

Foreign newspapers and their websites can often give you a different view of a story. Think of reading or listening to foreign reporting as a form of situational awareness. If you're stuck in a traffic jam, you don't stare at the tail lights of the car in front of you and think you have the full story. You might get out of the car, look at the vehicles ahead of you, and search for a way out of the jam. Reading foreign news serves the same purpose.

State-run media is quite another story. These are often the official mouthpieces of the head dictator that's in charge. Consume their content with the same large grain of salt that you use when viewing or reading American mainstream media. They too are trying to sell you something.

Keeping all that long-winded advice in mind, here are a few of the sources I like to use:

Gottin Himmel

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