Question of the Week: Best News Sources

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What are the best sources of news and opinion in the secular world?

 

We're making a list and checking it twice, just like Santa. (And US News & World Report.)

 

Tell us your favorite websites, podcasts, social media feeds, and magazines, but more importantly, tell us why. What are the criteria we should use when choosing the best?

 

Winners get a copy of An Appetite for Wonder, by Richard Dawkins.

Written By: RDFRS
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43 COMMENTS

  1. Atheist news? Now there’s a strange concept. I can picture the headlines
    BREAKING NEWS!!!
    Following much Facebooking and debate, atheists still don’t believe in God.
    Still it’s got to be better than Fox News

  2. All news sources are biased and manipulative. Hence, it is best to trawl a range of sources with varying allegiances. I currently use Al Arabiya, BBC, Colbert Report, Daily Show, Elsevier, Huffington Post, MrWonkish, Reuters, Russia Today & Salon.

    • In reply to #2 by bene.taylor:

      All news sources are biased and manipulative. Hence, it is best to trawl a range of sources with varying allegiances. I currently use Al Arabiya, BBC, Colbert Report, Daily Show, Elsevier, Huffington Post, MrWonkish, Reuters, Russia Today & Salon.

      I recommend DemocracyNow.org It’s from a left perspective and it’s a nice counter weight to the inherent corporate bias in most of the sources you mentioned. Leading up to the Iraq war they were one of the few sources that really told the truth about what an obvious crock of lies the Bush administration case for war was.

  3. I like to still gather news from a bunch of sources. I particularly like reddit for it’s ability to incite discussion from such a profound group of people. The atheism (to an extent), science, and even religious subreddits provide a great platform for a lot of discussion from real people — not simply panel discussion based on what the media wants you to think. It also, by design, provides links to the primary source of discussion as a beginning to the discussion.

  4. Russia Today for news on telly. Western news, just broadcast from a country which is out of range of the influence of politicians and media magantes who control the news being broadcast from within westerrn countries. Often with intriguing results.

  5. Here in the United States, NPR (National Public Radio) is my main news source because they present all sides of a given issue and I never feel as though they’re trying to lead me towards a particular conclusion or opinion, which is woefully rare in journalism today.

    • In reply to #7 by JCD42:

      Here in the United States, NPR (National Public Radio) is my main news source because they present all sides of a given issue and I never feel as though they’re trying to lead me towards a particular conclusion or opinion, which is woefully rare in journalism today.

      I don’t agree that NPR presents all sides of a story. Very few main stream outlets in the US do. There is a left wing viewpoint, a true left viewpoint not what your average corporate democrat believes, that is missing from most US news.

      To take a specific example: the Vietnam war. The allowable spectrum of discussion for the Vietnam war on NPR and the US media in general has two viewpoints: 1) The hawks: the US could have won Vietnam if we had been more brutal and just let the military use it’s full capabilities without concerns for things like civilian casualties and 2) the doves: The US meant well in Vietnam, we were trying to bring them democracy but you can’t force democracy on other people and in spite of our good intentions it was a bad idea.

      Those are pretty much the two views you will hear on NPR. The true left wing perspective on Vietnam: that the US never cared about democracy at all and was just trying to assert dominance over the Soviets and Chinese in the Cold war, the opinions of people like Howard Zinn, Chomsky, and Michael Parenti, that you will almost never hear on most NPR stations.

      • In reply to #9 by Red Dog:

        Considering I was an infant during the time of the Vietnam war, I cannot enter into a debate with you on how NPR reported the event without researching their archives. Since I’m more concerned with getting news in 2014, I’m not going to do that.

        I am acutely aware that most news outlets have an agenda (making money) and do, therefore, present biased information (because they pander to the largest audience share). I constantly look for evidence of such in every news source and do not find it in the NPR of today. I find them to be rather dry in reporting the facts, which is exactly how I want my news as I prefer to draw my own conclusions and form my own opinions about current events.

        I wonder, when was the last time you listened to NPR or read an article on NPR.org?

        • In reply to #11 by JCD42:

          In reply to #9 by Red Dog:

          Considering I was an infant during the time of the Vietnam war, I cannot enter into a debate with you on how NPR reported the event without researching their archives. Since I’m more concerned with getting news in 2014, I’m not going to do that.

          Ok, then here is a more recent example. Consider the healthcare debate. On NPR you will hear “both sides” of the story:

          1) Conservative side: The Affordable Care Act is one more step toward socialism. The solution to healthcare (not that there really is much of a problem) is that we should stop putting limits on the free market. We need tort reform (so people can’t sue for medical malpractice) and the removal of laws that make it harder to do healthcare business across state lines.

          2) The corporate liberal side: The ACA rollout was flawed but a big problem was that the Republicans have been fighting it every step of the way at both the state and federal level. With the proper support healthcare reform could work.

          3) The actual left wing perspective that you almost never hear on NPR: The US is an outlier in the industrialized world when it comes to healthcare. All other industrialized nations have some sort of universal healthcare provided by the government. There is overwhelming evidence that the approach of universal healthcare provides both better outcomes at a lower overall cost. Instead of adopting piecemeal free market reforms like ACA what the US should do is adopt true universal healthcare the way the UK, Canada, and most of the rest of the first world nations.

          I wonder, when was the last time you listened to NPR or read an article on NPR.org?

          Yesterday. It can be very entertaining. They had a guy from the US government talking about the latest violence in Fallujah. The NPR guy opened by talking about how awful the violence was. I was a bit (but not that much) surprised to realize he was talking about how awful the violence was not for the actual citizens of Fallujah whose homes were getting blown up again but rather it was so traumatic for the US soldiers hearing about it and reliving the trauma of blowing up people’s homes.

          The interviewee from the US state department did finally get around to talking about the people of Fallujah. He said it was going to be so much worse for them because when the US essentially destroyed the city “we evacuated all the civilians first”. Of course the NPR guy didn’t challenge this at all even though the statement is total bullshit. I’ve read several books on the Iraq war and they have statements from people on the ground who interviewed civilians. The civilians were desperate to leave but the US military had the city on lock down. Anyone trying to leave was hauled off to a detention center (if they were lucky) or shot. What the US really did is what they often do: declare that anyone who was blown up was by definition a terrorist.

        • In reply to #11 by JCD42:

          In reply to #9 by Red Dog:

          Considering I was an infant during the time of the Vietnam war, I cannot enter into a debate with you on how NPR reported the event without researching their archives. Since I’m more concerned with getting news in 2014, I’m not going to do that.

          Here is one more example of how NPR doesn’t present both sides of the story that is more recent. The lead up to the Iraq war:

          The two sides you heard on NPR:

          1) Conservative side: Sadam Hussein is in league with Al Queda. He has WMDs and it is only a matter of time until he uses them or gives them to Al Queda.

          2) Liberal side: The intelligence about Hussein’s WMDs and ties to Al Queda is questionable. We need to focus on Afghanistan before we start yet another war in the mideast.

          3) The real left alternative view you almost never heard on NPR: The idea that Sadam Hussein is collaborating with Al Queda is nonsense. It’s laughable and no one who knows anything about the middle east takes it seriously. They hate each other as much as they hate the US. Hussein is secular and Al Queda hates secular rulers of Islamic nations. Hussein has no WMDs they were all destroyed after the first gulf war and his economy is in shambles due to US economic sanctions. It’s nonsense to think he could have been acquiring new WMDs. Also, Cheney and Rumsfield have a history of outright lies about foreign affairs, what they are doing with intelligence with Iraq is identical to their Team B work during the first Bush administration where they manufactured fears about the Soviet threat that all turned out to be lies and distortions.

  6. My favourite secular news sources include TYT (The Young Turks) Online; The Rachel Maddow Show, DemocracyNow.org & Secular Talk. All of these are sceptical, analytical, insightful & fun.

    Other online sources of opinion & news include FFRF weekly radio (podcast) and The Atheist Experience TV Show (Blip tv) and The Thinking Atheist. The reason?…all these 3 know religion inside & out. FFRF is particularly important in taking religion on in the courts.

    Favourite information websites include Evilbible.com / halalchoices.com.au / thereligionofpeace.com. These for being faultless and accurate.

    Youtube blogger/Social media favourites include Aaron Ra and David Silverman – I hope the entire secular community is listening to these 2.

  7. Great article on scientology. Hubbard wasn’t a particularly good science fiction writer either, but he soon realised that starting a cult was a multi-million-dollar step in the right direction (for him). But the point about equality on the tax issue was well made. I see no reason why religions should be tax-exempt – after all, they are just businesses when it comes down to it. They should pay taxes just like my business does with their charitable activities and donations eligible for tax deductions, just like my business does. Why should their belief in an ancient superstition or slightly later delusional fiction make them exempt from any modern financial consideration? I doubt that the people they scam every week with church ‘collections’ are detailed in the parishioners’ individual tax forms as charitable donations. It is income for the religion and should be treated as such – and taxed.

  8. In my opinion, mainstream media is never really secular, since the mainstream media are just tools of the people in power to manage the people. Left of right, they are mostly religious (at least in the US or México), so what does it matter if a newslet is of the left or right?

    Anyhow, for science i usually read BBC, for all the rest i like RT.

  9. First thought, and one of my favorites, is Brian Dunning’s Skeptoid at (skeptoid.com). This is an entertaining myth and pseudoscience revealing/debunking weekly program. Brian also presents InFact videos at (infactvideo.com). He answers supernatural, paranormal and dressed up “science” claims with researched facts and data. This helps to clear the mind and prepare one to take on the oceans of information that we are subjected to daily from a posture of skeptical and critical based thinking. As a short and stimulating weekly podcast, I think that Skeptoid helps to get critical analysis and scientific thinking into the mainstream. A good start-up and overall intro to what Skeptoid and InFact are all about is his 40 minute presentation of “Here Be Dragons” at (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=752V173e31o).

  10. OpenDemocracy blog is arguably the one most open to dissent and diversity of views, as well as containing excellent grammar (which counts for more than most people think). mongabay.com is by far the best and most comprehensive source of news and information on environmental and ecological issues. Dissent, a quarterly, also excels in its quality of writing but unlike almost all other opinion and analysis journals refrains from spouting any ideology, which is commendable. Mother Jones, similarly, combines fine writing, journalism, and a nose for news that other journals lack; it is presently the only environmental journal to which I subscribe. For middle east news, Middle East Forum and MEMRI are also the most trustworthy and comprehensive news sources, in a field of battle between extreme left and extreme right. I agree with the critiques of NPR, which tends to go with the Politically Correct and prefers
    heart-tugging human interest stories but ignores the mega-tragedies occurring in the world such as slavery, the oppression of women,
    and in-depth coverage of the biodiversity crisis, arguably the biggest crisis of all. Huffington Post is grammatically ignorant and goes for scandal and blockbuster news; it is the on=line version of National Inquirer. I do not own a TV set so I can’t comment on what is said there, but when it comes to video, nothing can beat Mr. Deity for biting satire about religion. As for other “liberal” news sources, The Nation wins the prize for bottom of the list in its dismissal of ecological issues and problems and for its high-handed pretense at being the liberal political taste=maker for people who can’t think for themselves. And between straight news competitors, the Wall St. Journal beats the New York Times hands down. The WSJ biases are out in front but the NY Times still tries to pass off opinion as fact, as it did in its recent story on GMOS and genetic modification.

  11. Best secular podcast? How about best podcast, of any type: Skeptoid. Brian Dunning is one of the world’s leading science advocates, continually showing us how and why to think critically. No wonder this podcast is the most listened to worldwide.

  12. I can’t specify the most reputable source worldwide, but I’m pretty sure I can identify the least reputable news source, in Australia at any rate. The Telegraph would have to take the crown. This Murdoch owned rag presents the most biased, shrill, ill-informed, right wing, lying excurse for news, anyone could imagine.

  13. To really get a full picture through all the static, I would read as many news sources as I can and filter through all the fuzz and make my own deduction. To do that everyday would burn me out, so on a daily basis probably my Facebook news posts because it has what i prefer. The more I continue to learn, my news feeds evolve.

  14. I choose informationclearinghouse.info as a major source of information. The articles are drawn from a wide range of publications as well as from many individual contributors (Hedges, Chomsky, Snowden), lots of videos, lots of updates on the many wars the US is waging, economic news, investigative journalism. There is a lot to pick from, and they mostly leave it up to the reader to decide what to think.

  15. There isn’t really such a thing as “atheist news” or “secular news”. Secular news are just news. When one talks about “secular news”, one necessarily has to also talk about religion.
    At the same time, since religious beliefs aren’t private, they intrude into all spheres of society, thus adding a religious dimension to all news. One cannot talk about any of the popular news talking points, like stem-cell research, marriage equality, reproductive rights, the war in Afghanistan, or even partisan politics etc, without necessarily discussing the religious aspect of each these talking points.
    Also, all news media today are anything but unbiased, making it very hard to get news that hasn’t been skewed by the opinion of the party presenting it. Whatever your personal worldview is, you can always find a news media which will serve the news cooked to your liking, making it easy for people to only get one side of the story – the side that confirms what they already believe.
    So what do you mean by “secular news”? If you are interested in news that doesn’t mention religion at all, science magazines and websites is what you’re looking for. If you’re looking for news that have to do in the atheist community, then you’d want to look at religious news media. If you’re interested in news topics that are concerned with secularism, well, that’s all the news.

  16. I thoroughly enjoy the long articles of The New Yorker. They often take up a story that has been in the news for a while and really give you much more detail. I often find myself changing the opinion I originally formed when the story first came out. For just staying informed on current events, I just consult Google News in the morning. Many news sources are given there along with their top five or six articles for that day. One can customize the content there to an extent, but somehow I haven’t been unable to eliminate Fox News.

  17. I love an evolution source in Spanish: explicame-evolucion.com.
    It is a great source of facts, based on dozens of great books read by the authors.
    It provides concise information and links to other sources.
    Great website for Spanish speaking countries, since there is very little in Spanish.

  18. Best News Source? BBC World Service. Next best: USA-National Public Radio straight news programs. Next Best: Christian Science Monitor (!) for print. Next Best: ≈ USA-Public Broadcasting System straight news programs. They do not think American political shenanigans are the only important or worthwhile stories. They do not think the only important stories are from the United States, although that is more true of the BBC than for NPR or PBS. It is extremely difficult to find a major US-English language information source for the outside world (i.e., outside the USA). They do not simply repeat or create propaganda to meet their own biases. Al-Jazeera America and Fox News USA violate the issues in those 2 statements (IMHO). With Newsweek gone there is no general information magazine that I find acceptable besides CSM (which I basically follow on Facebook). Beside that there is no such thing as a reliable news source on social media – but I confess that I get a lot from Facebook by carefully evaluating what’s being presented. But it requires very careful attention – one cannot be comfortable with the idea that news is going to be presented in a fair and balanced way. Matter-of-fact reporting (especially of opinion) is the key issue. Adjectival overload (which includes histrionics) is a clear indicator of inaccuracy. Second is broad range of coverage, both in topics and geography.

  19. I must say this is particularly poorly worded question for a site of this standard.
    News and opinion in the secular world ? do you want to exclude the Observatore Romano and the Christian Science Monitor? Why?

    Then there is a question of focus. Surely, if one is interested in Sumo, better read Ashai Shimbun than Die Welt. If in the Tour de France, l’Equipe than the Chinese People Daily. If intersted in Israel politics, Haaretz rather than El Mercurio or Times of India. In science, …ùEtc.

    Third, there is a distinction between immediate news and more matured opinions.

    For my own interests I would vote for
    1 the Guardian
    2. Huffington post ,

    as daily sources.

    For more reflective sources
    1. The Newyorker
    2. New York review of Books
    3. Foreign Affairs
    4. The Economist

  20. I’m not really loyal to any news sources like The Guardian, Reuters, or The Washington Post. However, aside from my own local news sources, I usually scan the following sites daily:

    1. Eurekalert.org science news feed
    2. Lifehacker.com entertaining tech and so-called life tips
    3. Science Based Medicine.org evidence-based medical opinions
    4. RDF.net discussion forum
    5. Bogleheads.org entertaining economic advice
    6. Craigslist.org: the “fix it” forum (can find decent advice for fixing/building anything)

    Mike

  21. I like the Center For Inquiry’s Morning Heresy. They pull from a lot of different places. For podcasts I really enjoy The thinking Atheist. I like the range of topics that are talked about, and I also like that it’s always respectful on pretty much everyone’s part.

  22. What an odd consideration to make when we live in a world that has been trained to placate the fury of the Gods. The title of Secular News would insist that religious beliefs are not considered in the delivery of what would be considered news. Secular News Daily does a great job of delivering this type of news. Not only are they not shy about what they are trying to convey, as the title insists, but they do something that brings smart readers to them. They deliver the news that matters like science, education and reports on the effects of government on people. They don’t offer information as pick side A or B. Being secular means wanting to be free of a governing system that opresses thought and insists you agree, as religion does. Secular News Daily does that. Think of it as a news oasis for the world we live in. It gives the perspective that makes you want to send it to your friends and further investigate the topic. It also offers resources for a secular person to get more news. Check it out. http://www.secularnewsdaily.com

  23. Noam Chomsky said it best:

    in business schools and in business journals, one often finds a fairly clear perception of what the world is really like. On the other hand, in the more ideological circles, like the academic social sciences, I think you find much more deep-seated illusion and misunderstanding, which is quite natural. In the business school, they have to deal with the real world and they’d better know what the facts are, what the real properties of the world are. They are training the real managers, not the ideological managers, so the commitment to propaganda is less intense.

    • In reply to #41 by vagabond84:

      Noam Chomsky said it best:

      in business schools and in business journals, one often finds a fairly clear perception of what the world is really like. On the other hand, in the more ideological circles, like the academic social sciences, I think you find much more deep-seated illusion and misundersta…

      In case people want the context for that quote:

      What the World is Really Like: Who Knows It — and Why Noam Chomsky

      Just to be clear though Chomsky wasn’t saying that all the social sciences are worthless, just that (and I totally agree) that most of the Academic work done in those disciplines: Post Modernism, Freudianism, Marxism, etc. are pseudoscience. But I have heard him praise individuals such as Pinker and Marc Hauser whose research is very influenced by Chomsky and who are trying to extend his approach to Linguistics to psychology and other social sciences.

      Chomsky’s point is that for actual news sources such as the Economist and (before it was Murdochized) the Wall Street Journal often tell things with less spin than supposedly liberal sources such as the New York Times.

  24. How do I know that I didn’t win? How long should I wait to hear of the news? Could it possibly take many, many years? Is there a sign I should be looking for? Should I prepare my kids for the news? How should I behave in the meantime?

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