I’ve been thinking about this post for a long time. As Slow News Weekly approaches its first birthday, I’ve been wondering about the project’s future.
To be perfectly frank, when I first began, I was just trying to prove to myself that people gave a shit about what I wrote. I was in a pretty crap place with my writing. I wanted to prove that I could write something useful. I wanted to prove that the world was a much kinder place than what most mainstream media would have us believe. I wanted to prove that change and progress do happen, never fast enough for our impatience, but often faster than expected.
Mostly, I wanted to give the people in my community the opportunity to learn about the world along with me. I wanted to help make us better citizens – a terribly old-fashioned and under-used word. This was in part inspired by my mentor, Michael Gurr, who passed away last year. Michael was a political force of nature who bemoaned ignorance and stupidity, and romantically believed, on his good days, in the power of government. I miss him terribly.
Still, I must admit, ever since the first anniversary of his death, I’ve felt my passion for Slow News Weeklywane. The spiritual urgency I originally felt for the project has passed, and I came to understand that SNW was unlikely to ever really grow to a point where I could create a sensible income from it. And that was never the point anyway. So, when I sat down to write this week’s summary with a now too-familiar sense of reluctance, I decided it was time to let Slow News Weeklygo.
So this’ll be the last e-mail you receive for this incarnation of Slow News Weekly. I don’t know when – or if – we will return.
Thank you to those of you who read every post religiously. I know a good clump of you rely on SNW for your weekly news. And it’s a responsibility I never too lightly. I’ve learned so much from the project, and I hope you have too. I don’t want to throw you back into mainstream media without a helping hand, so here’s a couple of hints for where to go from here.
If you’ve been scanning the whole e-mail so far, READ this next bit. Honestly, the next few paragraphs are probably the most important and helpful things I’ve ever written for Slow News Weekly.
Where to go for good news
So, surprise surprise, I’m a lefty, so I read news that a lot of people would consider ‘lefty’ news. Most news services come with a simple e-mail notification service that provide you with daily summaries. The following services that I list are pretty much all I’ve read or consulted for anything I’ve ever done through SNW.
Note: good journalism requires money. Behind every keyboard is a writer who needs to be paid. Most services are VERY reasonably priced. If you want the journalists of the future to be trained professionals who are dedicated to independent reporting, you’ll need to pay for it. One of the reasons why mainstream media is so shit is that they’ve become corrupted by chasing sponsors and ads. So don’t be cheap. Find a service or two you like and pay for it.
- The Guardian is free. Donation optional. They’re incredibly well-established. They started in the UK and their Aussie digital newspaper has disrupted the marketplace significantly. They cover everything because they’re international. Their reporting on Australian immigration in particular is stunning. They also have, wonderfully, a section for Indigenous news. Sign up for their daily e-mail newsletter here.
- The New York Timesis the gold standard. They give you a certain amount of articles for free each week, and then you have to pay a little bit to unlock everything. Their international reporting is renowned. They have a daily e-mail newsletter that’s a great broad summary of world events. You can sign up for it, for free,here.
- Crikeyis independent Australian news, with a great focus on Aussie politics. You have to part with an annual subscription, but their daily e-mail newsletter, ‘The Crikey Worm’, is worth it if the ABC and The Guardian isn’t quite enough for you with Aussie politics. Because they’re indie, they’re a bit cheeky in their tone, which makes them very readable.
Speaking of, despite the recent attacks from the bone-headed government (watch my objectivity disappear as I say goodbye), the ABCis trustworthy and reliable and free. And you pay for it with your tax, so you may as well read it. Come election times, they have excellent explainers and guides to help you get across what’s happening. ABC have also stepped up their podcast game this year, and I’ve recently found that The Signal – a five day a week, fifteen minute explainer on a news topic – is great. I also make a habit on catching up with Insiders, which airs on TV every Sunday morning. Even just watching the first twenty or so minutes is great to see what’s been going on in politics.
I would also recommend Vox. They’re American, but their videos in particular are great explainers on complex situations. I have Vox to thank mostly for helping me understand North Korea, China and other complex international players.
Just try 10% harder
You have a few options in dealing with the world and your responsibilities as a citizen. You can hide from everything and be ignorant, cynically claiming that all politicians are corrupt and the system’s broken. Or you can be incredibly passionate about one or two issues, getting your information mostly from social media. Neither of these are great. Personally, I don’t know which one is actually more harmful to our democratic process.
I’m on the left, so I have a lot of social justice warrior mates. And I’m one too. The greatest insult others can hurl against us is that we don’t know what we’re talking about. If you’re going to take a stance on a topic – know your shit. You only damage the cause by not being across it. Do your best to back up your emotional reaction with facts, and always be prepared to listen to the other side. Treat others how you want to be treated, no matter their political opinion. We’re all humans trying very hard.
You know what it takes to know more about something? 10% more effort. Honestly, it takes, usually, fifteen minutes of research.
If you’re curious about something follow it up. We have all of human knowledge at our fingertips, but we so rarely use it. There’s no excuse for ignorance.
If you’re unsure about something, here’s a few clues to get you started:
- Google a question. You’d be surprised at the quality of results. Google is fiddling with its AI search, so it’s becoming more and more geared towards answering specific questions. So if you have a question about an issue, ask Google and see what comes up.
- Google ‘A simple guide to xxxx’. Often, you’ll find that the ABC, Vox, or someone has taken the time to unpack a topic. You’ll become 100% more informed on something in less than ten minutes.
- Be mindful and critical of the sources. An independent vlogger who’s expressing opinion or unchecked analysis simply isn’t as useful as a credited news site.
- Check multiple news sites on the same topic. Just scan a few articles and notice the differences – you’ll pick up on some important nuances.
- Always read more than the first few paragraphs. In fact, if you’re pressed for time or bored, I suggest reading the first paragraph and then jumping to about half-way through the article. That’s usually the point where the writer starts unpacking or providing context on the issue.
- It’s always helpful to research the other side. If there’s a particular government policy you’re interested in, google to find the speech where the government announces it – what are they trying to sell here? And what does the opposition say?
This is everything. Even if you pay no attention to anything else, in the final week before an election, go to the ABC, check out their guides on the election, and just spend half an hour deciding how to vote. For extra points, if you’re passionate about an issue, ring or contact your representative. That’s how our system works. You’ve got to dosomething, not just complain about it.
I genuinely believe we have a great governmental process in Australia. And, to be perfectly frank, I don’t think Malcolm Turnbull is the worst PM we’ve ever had, even in the face of some pretty crappy decisions. But we’ve got to keep these bastards hands above the table. And that means being aware of the stuff that you would normally consider boring: tax policy, immigration reform, health and education. ABC and Crikey and The Guardian help with that stuff.
And when the time comes, take your vote seriously. Spend some time getting across how the system works. Who has power effects you. It effects how much you’re paid, house prices,what happens to you when you get sick, how our kids are taught, who we can marry, and how we treat those who are the worst off in our society.
Thank you so much for reading and staying with me. Honestly, to have eyes on my writing twice a week has been a huge confidence boost, and I’ve learnt so much from this process. I hope I’ve been of use.
If you encounter a news topic that you’re curious about or having trouble understanding, shoot an e-mail! If I get time, I’ll reply.
A few of you, my true heroes, have actually donated some cash to this process through Patreon. I reserve special thanks to Penny, Laurel, Heidi, Ari, Ang, Carley, Pete, Christie, Tim, Karen, Jennifer, Roxanne, Margi, Birgit, Steve, Linda, Chrissie, Chris, Merlynn, Rhodian, Katherine, Jess and Kate. Truly, your kindness so touches me. Thank you.
For now, it’s farewell. I hope we cross paths again soon.
Go well, have an awesome weekend.