Part of the Solution: Read the World's News -Not Just America's

Anyone who follows the news in even the most cursory manners knows that Israel/Palestine has erupted again (please pray). But what's new? Does anyone pay attention anymore? And if you do - congratulations, and thank you - does your knowledge of what's going on in the world start and stop with the headlines and sound bites at CNN or Fox?

If so, you're not alone. According to my own anecdotal polls, it's rare that Americans know much about the world beyond our borders. Sure, if it's on the Today Show, or Oprah - and especially the Daily Show - then most people can discuss it somewhat intelligently. But our entertainment-based consumption of world news is a far cry from the kind of information that much of the world knows about us. And why is this, pray tell? Well, obviously we're the world's superpower, so people follow what we're up to. But why the one-way street? Probably for the same reason.

Well, I believe it's time to change that. I believe that a country that doesn't know much about what goes on in the rest of the world - whether it's because we're the biggest and strongest, or because it's just "too hard" to find or too "time consuming" - is bound to suffer in many more ways than being kicked from that much lauded number one spot.

If you don't already do so (I pray that I am wrong about the Burnside readership! But I think I know better...I am one and I need reminding,too.) please consider broadening the range of news that you consume and sources that you peruse. On the Social Justice page over at Burnside proper you'll find a list of global news sources that are a good place to start. If it seems overwhelming, BBC World News is also a good aggregator or world news stories of note.

A few final thoughts:

1) Try to read at least one story per month about Africa that is good news.

2) If you don't know where the country is that they're talking about, look it up. In fact, memorize it!

3) Sports news only counts half as much as regular news.

4) Celebrity news doesn't count at all.

Happy Reading!

(And I already anticipate the sports news comments, people. Hey, I get it - at least you're reading!)

(And thanks - to all of you - for being good sports and listening to me on my soapbox.)


  1. Thank you for this, Penny.

    A year ago Kenya erupted in violence within ear shot of where my sister lives. At the time my parents were down there visiting. The only way I could find ANY regular news was by going to BBC online!

    When I was in Kenya 6 months prior I loved watched the news from their perspective. I learned a lot about what's going on in all of Africa.

    I still read BBC, but not as often as I should. Thank you for the excellent reminder.

    (And I would argue that Sports news is no news at all. You are more generous than I.)

  2. I have my browser set to open both CNN.com and Al Jazeera.net as my home pages (in separate tabs), and I'm consistently astounded with how stories of global importance reported in Al Jazeera are simply ignored in American media.

    Varying your news sources can be a very frightening experience.

  3. I like Google News, because it pulls headlines from all kinds of sources from everywhere (Al Jazeera shows up often), and i can customize it to show me few sports/entertainment headlines and even custom searches (to follow that one team) or local news (to see what's up in Portland).

    very handy way to stay abreast of the global situation. i actually kinda like seeing cricket and soccer headlines in my sports section, though i'm clueless about them. you know, broaden my perspectives and all...

  4. This is a great reminder. (Thanks Penny!)

    I had quite the eye opening experience when I moved to Taiwan 4 months ago.

    One of my first conversations with a Taiwanese 20-something (like me), who has had the same amount of schooling, really showed me the failure in US, entertainment-based News. Within a couple minutes of the conversation, he had run mild circles around my knowledge of even State-side political happenings and current figures. Not to mention he was up on the US election.

    Did you know Taiwan has a President?
    Did you know the previous President was recently arrested for money laundering?

    I certainly didn't.

    Penny this is a great reminder to get outside our realm of influence and... well, get a clue.

    Even for Expats like me.


  5. Half the points for reading sports stories? That's far too generous, Penny.

  6. Penny,
    I took your advice and did some follow up reading. I scoured Al Jazeera for a positive story on Africa. Not easy to find!

    Closest I got was The Swearing-in of Ghana's New President - but even that was tinted with the weight of Ghana's poverty (some of the worst in the world).

    Thank you for this challenge.

    BTW, Al Jazeera is no in my RSS Feed. Good call there, Anonymous and nathan.