How to Get the News in 5 Minutes a Day
Q: How can I keep abreast of current affairs without spending too much time trying to keep up with the news? –Teddy B., Los Angeles, CA
A: I’m going to share with you a tried and true method for soaking in every bit of important world news each day, and it only takes five minutes.
The Gradspot.com Rapid-Fire News Plan
Some say a stitch in time saves nine, but we have no idea what that means. We say taking a few minutes to make bookmarks on the Internet saves a disproportionately greater number of minutes down the line.
Prep Work (one time only)
Step one: Throw out your newspapers and turn off the television.
Step two: Bow down to the Internet, it is your salvation.
Step three: Don’t be taken in by the allure of an RSS reader (if you don’t know what that is, good).
Step four: Download the Firefox web browser if you don’t already have it. Once you do, make sure that new windows open up in new tabs (go to “Preferences” and then the “Tabs” tab).
Step five: Go to your “Bookmarks” menu and select “Organize Bookmarks.” Once there, create a new folder (control-click or right-click and select new folder) within the “Bookmarks Toolbar Folder.” This places a folder right below where you enter URLs in your browser.
Step six: Go to all of your favorite news sites (I’ll share mine with you below), and once you’re on each site, drag the favicon (that’s the icon to the left of the URL in your url-bar) into the folder you just created.
Get Your Browse On
Now, whenever you want to check up on the news, just click on your new folder, select “Open All in Tabs,” and let the news sites populate your browser.
Why It Works
First, I’m assuming you don’t need to know every detail. Instead, you just want to know what’s going on. That’s reason enough to throw away the newspapers and turn off the television. Reading a newspaper article takes five minutes (even Financial Times articles aren’t that short), and for every hour’s worth of programming on CNN or Fox News, you’ll realistically get about five minutes of news. Similarly, while I know that people would suggest RSS readers, you can’t imagine how many news stories are published on each site each day. Trying to keep up with your feeds will take enough time.
After setting up your “News” bookmark folder, you can instantaneously open up a bunch of tabs in your browser, each with a different news outlets’ homepage. Instead of reading each word of the homepage, just browse the main headline and the other obviously promoted news stories (usually next to the headline). That should take you thirty seconds per page, but you’ll know exactly what each news outlet thinks is most important (so as long as you pick the right outlets, you’ll be getting some fine news). Then, once you’ve browsed all headlines, return to whatever might interest you most and read as much as time permits.
And now for what interests us…
Our Favorite News Sites
- Google News (note: for some people, just visiting Google News can provide everything you need to know in five minutes – we like to diversify)
- BBC News
- New York Times
- Fox News
- Drudge Report
- Jerusalem Post
- Al Jazeera
- Financial Times
- Wall Street Journal
- China Daily (let us just say that the government has some input into these stories)
- Baz Tab (ditto)
- Your local paper here.
Embrace the Podcast
Some people don’t have jobs that allow them to surf the Web all day. Others have long commutes every morning but get nauseous or cause accidents when reading in transit. Whatever you’re reason for avoiding the written word, you’ve got a great alternative for getting news that’s both engaging and efficient: podcasts. National Public Radio has a wide array of great news podcasts, including the brand new Bryant Park Project, which is aimed specifically at young people who want to be informed. The New York Times also has a full line-up that includes “Front Page,” which summarizes the major headlines every weekday morning in about five minutes. You could even get a weekly show like Weekend Edition Saturday and try to listen to it throughout the week—you’ll be behind the manic “24-hour news cycle,” but at least you’ll be well-informed.
Poke around iTunes a bit and find something you like. Then, subscribe to the podcast of your choice and it will download automatically so that you can throw it on your mp3 player each morning before you go to work (or in the evening before you workout). You can even multi-task and just let the words seep subconsciously in your brain. You’ll be surprised later when you know something you don’t even remember listening to!