Top 5 Online News Sources

This used to be a much more difficult thing to talk about. As more and more news sources moved online, it seemed like it was going to be pretty easy to find news that you wanted to read. However, what’s happening now is that you’re finding that some of your favorite sites are moving to a paid model. What this has done for me is taken me back to many of the news sources I used to check out before I got more specific with news.

I’m probably not the only one who looks at news online. Local news is also online, but I tend to want to watch that when it’s live. This is for all that other news, including news you never even thought you wanted to know about. And none of these sites cost you a thing; those are excluded. These aren’t necessarily the people who put out the news; just a place where you can go to get the news you want.

Excite is my favorite place to go for customized news for only this reason; it doesn’t require you to go to an extra page before you can see your news. At one point they had created a sales page that used to pop in before it took you to a news story but those days seem to be gone. You can select from tons of choices, select from hundreds of colors and backgrounds, and it’s a lot of fun. The best feature for me is the TV listings at the bottom, which no other news site, even my local sites, don’t give me. You can customize it based on the type of service you have, and then customize it to see only the channels you want to see; neat! The only gripe I have is that you can’t get rid of their own advertising content along the left side and at the top, but truthfully, I don’t even notice it anymore, and only noticed it when deciding to write this post.

My Yahoo is my number two source of customized news. It’s not the first place I go, but I love that it has more news sources to select from than Excite. It also has all the customization that Excite has. My one gripe is that many of the links you hover over have a plus sign come up, which means you’ll either have to click on that to go to a preview page and then the news, or you can hold down on control and click on it and go to the news story. It’s a small irritation, but one just the same.

CNN is always the first site I go to for my news. It’s clean, efficient, and at least the headlines are always up to date. I’ve customized Firefox so I see it differently than most people do. If I have a gripe, it’s that it doesn’t update the minor news stories as often as it updates everything else. Still, it’s quick and easy access to current news.

MSNBC is another great news source that allows for minor customization of where you get your news from. Very minor; for instance, the closest local news I get is about 30 minutes away. But they have lots of content and change it more often than CNN does.

Reuters is a great news choice and has lots of coverage of overseas issues, which for some of you makes it more valuable than my truly American slantings. Still, it looks like it customizes itself based on your location, which probably means I’m seeing a much different front page than someone would in another country. It also offers a different slant on the news that, for me, is sometimes enjoyed and hated at the same time, but always intriguing.

And there you go; now, go learn something!


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Are Americans Stupid, Or Do We Just Not Care?

There was a strange story on CNN that analyzed President Obama’s speech to the nation on Tuesday night. However, this analysis was different than the norm. Instead of looking at the content or determining if it was effective or not, instead it concentrated on whether it was too “professorial” for most people to understand.

Once again, it’s the “dumbing down of America” conversation, and in truth there seems to be a lot of proof that it’s true in some fashion. Many of us have seen Jay Leno asking people on the street questions to things that should be obvious and heard the stupid answers that come from them. One time he interviewed recent college graduates and it was shocking to hear some of the answers they were giving.

You want to know how entrenched the idea is? Many of you know I’m a health care finance consultant. Well, one of the directives from Medicare is that any information we give to Medicare patients must be written at a 3rd grade level. That’s right, we have to try to find a way to write complicated stuff so an 8-year old can understand it. Trust me, that’s not easy to do, and hospitals get called on it all the time.

So, are we Americans dumb? Is our educational system failing us? The popular answer is “yes”. However, when you think about it, you’d have to say it’s not even close. What has happened is that people, including children, have locked onto what they believe is important to them, and on that specific thing they’re geniuses. Think back to your youth for a moment. How much do you remember from your history lessons? Then how many song lyrics do you remember from music you loved at the time?

Think about spelling. Man, do I see a lot of spelling mistakes everywhere. Even words people use all the time get spelled incorrectly. As a former employer, it used to amaze me that I’d get resumes where people would misspell the name of the school they went to; those immediately went into the trash.

Still, are we dumb? I’ll use myself as an example. I like to think I’m pretty smart. I know a lot about a lot of things. Yet, I have no concept of geography, which was highlighted again a couple of nights ago when our friend Ching Ya mentioned she lived in Malaysia, and I had absolutely no idea where it was. Then I looked it up on Google and I still wasn’t sure where it was; that’s a shame.

I also know nothing about cars except how to drive them and put gas in. I had a car years ago that I kept putting oil in, thinking it was leaking oil, only to learn that I’d been looking at something other than oil; I can’t even think of what it was at this juncture.

Why don’t I know these things? Because I don’t care. I can pay someone else to fix my car. I don’t see myself leaving the country any time soon (well, maybe a trip to the Canadian side of Niagara Falls again some day), so I have no interest in knowing where most countries are specifically, since I do have a general idea of where places are. Does this make me dumb or just uninterested? And if this is how I am, could most people be the same way?

I really don’t know; I’m just putting it out there. However, there’s a program called WebCEO that will analyze your website and give you a lot of information about it, and one time when I ran it against my main business website it said it was written at a high school level and that maybe I should change some of the language of the site. Frankly, I think telling someone that their content is too intelligent is an insult to others, and I’m not doing it.

Then again, I once wrote a song with the word “recalcitrant” in it, and my friend Scott said he wanted to hit me. I wonder if he remembers that. 🙂 Anyway, what are your thoughts on the intellect of either Americans, or the people in whatever country you live in? I’m betting we’re not alone in believing that our populations are less intelligent than in the past.

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