Keeping Up with the News is Hard, but Vital

Teachers offer tips for quickly staying on top of current events


After the wild year we have just experienced, with historical events unfolding in front of us, from the BLM movement to the 2020 presidential election, I came to realize that I am truly disconnected from the constantly changing news around me. With homework, classes and at-home chores filling up my schedule, I have found it overwhelming to figure out how to keep up with the news, or even to decide what to read about.

Still, I care about what’s happening in the world and I want to figure out how to keep up with it all.News is shared through social media, websites, television, and old-styled newspapers, and we have all learned that not every source is reliable. So, what are the best sources we can use to stay accurately informed?  What are some habits we can build to help us incorporate the intake of news into our busy schedules? 

I have to admit that with all the news out there, I usually don’t take the time to read lengthy news articles. Instead, I turn to the painless and easy alternative of social media. That means paying attention to the “trending” events that are fed to me based on my interests. But I know that presents and incomplete — and not always accurate — picture of the world.

 U.S. History teacher Cal Trembath told me he has developed the habit of checking the news first thing in the morning, either right after he gets out of bed or during breakfast, rather than checking social media.

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‘“I think that’s a good time to do it, like in the morning when you’re still waking up, and kind of replacing some of that mindless social media scrolling with something that might be a little bit enriching and informative,” Cal said.

Starting mornings off with a bit of reading is also a healthy way to limit the intake of news we choose, so that it doesn’t dominate your whole day, said Vice Principal Helen Kim, who we all know is busy almost all the time. Helen said she usually doesn’t have time to read all the news alert emails she receives from the New York Times. Instead, she skims through things and reads bits of articles in the morning and saves the full pieces  in a “read later” folder.  Helen always has what she calls a  “hard stop time” because she either has to be in class or ready to go someplace else. 

“You could read and consume all day long because there’s so much of it,” Helen said. “But if you do it in the morning, one, you get a good sense of what happened in the last 24 hours, but you also know there is a stop time that you’re consuming the news because you have to start the day.” 

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Similarly, Trigonometry teacher Greg Avis makes it a habit to go to  the front page of trustworthy news sites first thing in the morning. He also makes sure to inform his students during his 2nd period class about current events by sharing the homepage of the New York Times.  Greg majored in political economy and his goal is to share the importance of staying informed about the news. It also has practical applications for his classes.

“Even though it’s a math class, there’s math in all of it, like Covid, there’s math about how many numbers of deaths,” Greg said. “So on one hand, there’s a practical part that I want [students] to understand that  there’s math in the news.”

Along with the New York Times, Greg gets his news from the Wall Street Journal, Good American News, and the Washington Post. But for students who have busy schedules on a time crunch  he recommended using Axios, which sends newsletters containing the top-10 news items. Not only does it inform us about current events, but it also lets readers know how much time it will take to read a given article piece of news, which lets people plan their time.

Greg also recommends bookmarking publications on your browser to help build the habit of checking up on news and skimming the front page each day. 

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Cal doesn’t limit his news consumption to the first thing in the morning, though. He said he visits news sites throughout the day, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, and he especially recommended, which focuses on explaining relevant events and answering key questions. The website includes features like the “explained today” daily podcasts and an “explainer” section to give more context into the most relevant and confusing events. 

After talking with Cal, Helen and Greg, I felt like I heard a lot of good advice about when and where to find the news. I still felt concerned, though, about hearing misinformation on social media, and how to recognize it when it arises. Helen said there is a generation gap between the teachers and the way we students receive our news. 

“I also realize from talking to students that they get news in a whole different way than I do, like some students say they get their news from Tik Tok,” Helen said. “Apparently, you can get pretty up to date with news – things that are going on nationally in different areas of the country.” 

So yes, social media can be informative, and not all of it is misleading. But Greg recommended that if you prefer social media, just choose to follow credible newspaper’s social media feeds and websites rather than whatever pops up. 

When I reflected on 2020, part of me just wanted to bury my head in the sand because there was altogether too much going on.  But I couldn’t help but recognize that the news is linked to my life in many ways. Take the whole pandemic for instance: The news about vaccines, deaths, health advice and regulations are critically relevant for everyone, including students.  So, I’m starting 2021 with a new pledge to build a habit of staying informed by following some of our teachers’ tips. It may not seem important at any given moment, but in the long run, it could be essential.