As a blogger I am all about the "little guy".
You know: the other option, the smaller source, the independent. I would even use the term "alternative" but it immediately drops the auditory image in my brain of Jane's Addiction and Pearl Jam warbling on about the establishment. But in all seriousness, the landscape of the world media is changing. Attention spans are moving away from the large bloated media, towards the slightly smaller media, reporting and commenting from the relative "outside".
And that is something that I can certainly get behind. I would now like to entreat you to a look at where the rest of America turns for its news intake, and then kindly tell you where you should be receiving it. Sometimes it will be one of those "little guys" and other times it will be an outlet that receives it paychecks from corporate America but still does a good job and deserves your attention.
What the rest of America reads: USA Today
What you should be reading...I can never fully wrap my head around the ongoing success of USA Today. The reporting is okay, but the content is so diluted. It is so difficult to glean any important information from a periodical that covers the third biggest country on the globe and does so everyday. This will be the first of my many pleas for you to just simply "go local". If you live in Athens, read The Athens News. If you live in Cleveland, read Scene. It is far easier to compartmentalize the information you are receiving and certainly that information is far more pertinent to you as a citizen. Most urban "alternative" papers have a strong liberal bias, but I have found many of them do a good job of keeping the politics out of stories and putting them on the Op-Ed page. If you insist on receiving national news: go to the Internet. But if that isn't an option, subscribe to The Washington Post. They report national news from the one spot in the country where national news TRULY matters. Plus Woodward and Bernstein bought them years of good karma.
What the rest of America watches: FOX News
What you should be watching....NOTHING. If you want real news, turn the TV off. Please....please....PLEASE turn the TV off. There is nothing for you there. Seriously, I am giving you ten seconds to turn it off. Television is a glowing box of entertainment, not news. News anchors have the ability to improvise, to inject their own little inflections of words, to sway you with their pretty smiles and their freshly powdered places. Plus, there is a shockingly small amount of accountability on television. They can say something and then move onto the next topic, the next issue. If you insist on watching TV news, watch NBC's Brian Williams at 6:00; he is the only man I know who can be completely impartial yet retain an bright and trustworthy personality. And if you watch a second of cable news in any given day, you are required to watch The Daily Show that night at 11:00 to see if any information you received was inaccurate or contradictory.
What the rest of America reads: Reader's Digest
What you should be reading...you may read Reader's Digest if you'd like, no one will think less of you. Reader's Digest isn't necessarily news and doesn't strive to be. The magazine is an excellent medium. The entire goal of a magazine is to appeal to some type of niche audience that newspapers cannot reach. You can find a magazine as broad as Reader's Digest or as specific as Equus Magazine, for horse lovers. So by all means, find what you like but there are two magazines that you absolutely need to give your attention. Both Time and Newsweek are probably the most reliable sources of information in the country. The magazine is truly the best medium for news as far as I am concerned. The presentation is crisp and clean; more durable than news-stock. And since it is released weekly, the writers have time to compile a REAL story not just a poorly researched re-telling of a day's event written in a rushed 24-hour time frame. Magazines are for News like West Virginia is for lovers. And Time and Newsweek are the ones to read.
What the rest of America views: Google News
What you should be viewing....Google News concept is interesting enough: have a program compile all the latest news in one area. That is useful for breaking news and certainly worth some of your time but there are better sources out there. MSN.com might be the most unbiased place on the planet to receive news. The front page is very aesthetically pleasing and very convenient. It has several sections including Sports and Finance and the visitor can choose how many stories from each he or she would like to be displayed. That would all be fine and well if that's all it were, but the type of stories displayed are unique as well. MSN.com might be the only place where news of a Congressional bailout plan would be placed side by side a headline about a dog who can do backflips (or other fun nonsense like it). That, friend, is ALL the news that is fit to print.
What the rest of America watches/reads/listens to: ESPN
What you should watch/read/listen to...ESPN is a good start. It is usually the first station I flip on when I wake up and is a good bet to be the last thing I watch before bed. ESPN.com is also a decent resource if you want to see who just won the Cy Young or if any College Football coaches got fired over the weekend. But the Sports News business is unique in that bloggers seem to be catching up to journalists at an alarming rate. This is because the results of sporting events are there for everyone to see: you don't need the New York Times anymore to tell you that the Giants lost, you cold just watch the game on CBS or check your cell phone. That type of immediacy has changed the nature of the sports journalism business into more speculation and analysis instead of reporting. Most of my favorite sportswriters are of the blogging variety. Bill Simmons is the man I turn to when I want to hear about issues on the national sports scene. And Paul Cousineau of The DiaTribe and all the good folks at Waitingfornextyear.com are the writers I turn to when I want some local sporting perspective. And the best "mainstream" sports journalists are the ones who have embraced this new analytical and stream of conscious reporting/writing style (see Terry Pluto).
And those are all the media outlets you need to be directing your eyes and ears to.
Mainstream is alright, but sometimes you just need a second opinion.