Today, approximately 42% of people in the U.S. report the internet as their primary news source. Obviously there are many benefits to getting your news online, including
- Speed: internet stories can be updated in near- real time, meaning the information you’re receiving is the latest
- Accuracy: Sure, blogs get it wrong and there are people trying to spread disinformation both to achieve their own ends and to be the first to ‘scoop’ something, but on the internet you can check a number of different sources simultaneously to get your facts right
- Expediency: Most people have internet access at their jobs, at home, and on-the-go, making getting information online quick and easy
- Interactivity: News stories online often have interactive content, allowing you to dig deeper into topics of interest.. Also important is the available of this information outside of news articles online. When I’m reading an article online, and a reference or topic comes up that I want to know more about, its as simple as opening a new window and searching wikipedia. Online, its just so easy to find more information on a topic
While all these are important, the single best part of getting news online is the “Comment” section following articles. Inevitably, I learn more from the comments section than I do from the actual article.
The article is really just a jumping off point for a discussion in the comments section, and by definition the comments section will give you a wide cross-section of different viewpoints, oftentimes from those with little interest other than expressing their anger at some idea presented, but also oftentimes by people who do know what they’re talking about and have intelligent points to make.
They key is finding news sites with intelligent reader communities. The best examples I know of are BoingBoing and Slashdot, with Slashdot being a particularly excellent source of community comments.
If you like “news for nerds” as Slashdot calls it, then subscribe to their daily news update and check out the comments section on an article that interests you. You won’t be disappointed.
I’ve been tempted to write this post for some time, but the reason I did today was after reading a short story on BoingBoing about Jim Henson. The video is great, but also check out the comments for an example of what I’m talking about: