Three Easy Ways to Stay Informed on the Issues

Everyone can feel overwhelmed by politics sometimes. From the constant partisan battles, to some of the initiatives of the current administration, politics can be something that stresses and alarms. But engaging in politics, and staying informed, is incredibly important to civic duty.

Many people, especially after the 2016 presidential election, felt as if they needed to “check out” from politics. And often, keeping up with politics can just feel impractical when days are filled with meetings, lunches and other personal commitments. But thanks to new ways to consume news, such as podcasting and email blasts, it’s easier than ever to stay informed.

Consider this your guide on how to stay involved in the news, even when it might feel like you don’t have the time or the energy. Here are three easy ways to stay informed on the issues:

#1 Podcasts

Podcasts aren’t just for crime dramas and comedy. Podcasts are a great way to stay informed while you’re doing your morning routine. Playing a news podcast while you take a shower or brush your teeth saves time, and lets you know the important news happening around the world, making it a great way to start your day.

There are a lot of different news podcasts out there, available on Apple Podcasts and Spotify. Some of the top news podcasts on Apple Podcasts include “The Daily,” by The New York Times—number seven on the charts of top podcasts—and “Up First,” by National Public Radio (NPR).

“The Daily” usually offers in-depth coverage of one story, with a couple of the other important headlines tacked on at the end. The podcast episodes are always compelling and well-produced, offering a detailed account of an important story of the day. Each episode, however, tends to be longer, around 20 or 30 minutes. But if your morning routine looks like mine, you have the time, and the episodes tend to be the perfect length for the commute to work or class.

If you want a broader overview of five to six important stories of the day, NPR’s “Up First” offers just that. Each story is extremely well-reported and concise, allowing the 15-minute podcast episodes to cover a broad range of topics and issues. Even though it isn’t long-form journalism, the episodes are still compelling, with taped interviews and expert commentary to add context to every story.

#2 NPR One

NPR offers a variety of other podcasts and radio shows that can be found on the NPR One app. Since most of us, excluding my mother, no longer have a transistor radio, this app is a great way to get the traditional feel of a morning radio show—just with better sound quality and fewer commercials.

#3 Email Blasts

Email summaries of the daily news are a great way to get just the headlines. Though this method won’t keep you incredibly informed on the issues, it will keep you up to date on the topics of the nation. Most major publications, including The New York Times, offer email blasts every morning. Other applications and sites aggregate news from different publications. Sites like The Skimm offer daily news blasts and summaries as well.

Email can be a great way to get just the headlines, but is best combined with reading the articles or adding a podcast to develop more knowledge than just the topic. And email can also be difficult to keep up with, if email is something you’d rather ignore than read.

Most political theorists will tell you that a well-educated citizenry is integral to democracy. Thomas Jefferson, though often misquoted on this exact line, would agree. Though everyone’s lives may seem incredibly busy—and incredibly distracting—it’s important to stay informed and aware of the world we live in today.

Also published on Medium.