Getting actual news with RSS

Just about all news websites on the Internet are terrible. Most of what Google News offers doesn’t even qualify as news, and its advocacy links have an obvious slant to the left. Most news sites’ homepages are full of unimportant sports and entertainment material and pictures that take half a minute to download. If you find an article on a solid news event, it’s usually got more about people’s reactions than to what actually happened. Often headlines can’t even describe their stories correctly. Perhaps lowest of all is the story that consists of Tweets by people nobody’s ever heard of, “proving” that some alarming new trend is gripping society.

A good alternative is well-selected RSS feeds. They lead to the same websites, but it’s far easier to browse through them for the stories that are worth reading. They’re handy for reading blogs that have new posts only once every few days but consistently say worthwhile things.

A lot of the feeds I follow are for specialized tech areas, and I won’t mention them here. Maybe I’ll list them in a future Mad File Format Science post. Here are some feeds I follow that have some general interest:

  • BBC News, Europe. Stories we might not see in the US.
  • Christian Science Monitor. Decent general news coverage.
  • Hit and Run from Reason Magazine. Obvious libertarian advocacy, but also news stories you might not see elsewhere.
  • Mother Jones. Leftward advocacy, but more pro-freedom than many, and again it’s got news stories you might otherwise miss.
  • New York Times, international. A left-establishment slant, but better news coverage than many.
  • Schneier on Security. This veers toward the techie side, but if you’re reading this on the Internet, you should care about its subject matter.
  • Spiegel Online: Schlagzeilen. Good European coverage, in German. (I’m not just being silly; my stats confirm that people from Germany do read this blog.)
  • The Volokh Conspiracy. A legal blog tending toward the libertarian. It often has good analysis that’s missing from other coverage of big stories.

I read RSS feeds on my Mac with Leaf. It’s simpler and more straightforward than most readers, though it’s slower than it should be. I’m open to other recommendations.

If you’d like to share some favorite news RSS feeds, please mention them in a comment.

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