Tag Archives: news

Breaking Away from HuffPo

Recently, I wrote about my frustration with the Huffington Post’s online presence, due mostly to the length of time it takes for the page to load and the number of refreshes one experiences while numerous pieces are fit onto the page. What I find most frustrating is the constant resizing and repositioning of what I’m trying to read as it’s loading. I’m not one to click on a link, then walk away for a minute or two waiting for the page I’m being served to settle down comfortably in my browser. I start reading the moment there’s a word in front of my face. BTW – I currently use Google Chrome and I am not going to spend time testing Safari, Firefox, or Opera to see if there’s a difference, though if someone tells me there is a substantial difference I might check it out.

Apolo Ohno

Yep! Just Like my Politics.

HuffPo is no longer the force it was when I first joined it over eight and a half years ago. At least it isn’t for me. There are plenty of alternatives, many of which are simpler and also a bit closer to my politics. Meaning, they lean to the left like Apolo Ohno entering a turn.

Yesterday I received a comment from a reader (also a friend) who said he experienced the same thing and was wondering if I could point him to some possible replacement sites for learning from a similar outlook. I should mention I know this person does not share my politics, but I’m glad to hear he’s interested in seeing things from more than one angle. The hallmark of an open mind is the willingness to see things from perspectives different than one’s own. I respect that a great deal.

Now, I go to quite a few different sites, each of which would be considered Leftist, but which are also somewhat different in how they approach the news and their reporting and analysis of it. For instance, there is a distinct difference between a site that is run by liberal Christians and one run by secular leftists. They report the same stories, frequently in similar fashion, yet they each have a particular slant on how important they consider these stories and what they think is behind them and how they ought to be resolved. These show up in how their posts are written, where they’re placed, or when they are attended to. There are numerous other nuances that I think differentiate many of the sites I get my news from, but the bottom line is I still have to sift through what they’re telling me, as well as what others are saying. Then I have to hold it all up to the lens of my knowledge and experience over the years. Did someone say critical thinking?

So . . . here’s a list of some of the sites I would recommend, along with a little bit of my thinking as to why they matter:

  • Daily Kos – What I like about Daily Kos is that many, if not most, of the stories (which they call “Diaries”) are written by individuals who have an interest in the subject they’re writing about. Some of them are excellent journalists and some are merely passionate individuals who have something to say. Diaries run the gamut from well-researched investigative pieces to highly opinionated diatribes. The page loads quickly and is customizable to your tastes, including subjects and authors. You can also create a fairly detailed profile. It’s very participatory. I post there once in a while; usually by copying over one of my blog posts from Systems Savvy.
  • Mother Jones – In addition to politics, MJ covers environmental and cultural news, much like HuffPo. They also have lots of photo essays and blogs. Pages load up quickly, yet there’s lots of info to choose from, all of which is presented pretty clearly. I’m not a web designer, so I don’t know what the ultimate is when it comes to ease of access, etc., but MJ looks pretty good to my eyes.
  • The Raw Story – I’m not that familiar with this one, but I do read some of their stories when I’m pointed to them via a friend on Facebook. The site loads up quickly and offers snippets to lots of different stories. In addition to the front page, their menu (easily accessible at the top of the page) offers U.S. and World News, Science, Tech, and a few other special areas of interest.
  • Slate Magazine – Visually, Slate is considerably different than the three above, though I think they just changed and it looks like they’re trying to create a paid subscription issue with some special content. The home page is somewhat visually appealing, but looks a little confusing if you’re just wanting to find specific types of information. There is a menu, but it wasn’t apparent to me (it’s at the top right and the icon for it is three horizontal lines. What I like about Slate is many of its articles are in-depth. They take a bit of commitment to read through, but they’re generally quite well-written and literate.
  • Truthout – Interestingly, I’m not all that familiar with this one, yet their Senior Editor and Lead Columnist is a Facebook friend of mine. I read a lot of his stuff directly on Facebook, where it is easy to engage. Doing so on any of these sites isn’t anywhere as easy or as immediate, let alone satisfying. Truthout is a non-profit and you will see far fewer ads than on some of the other sites. They also have a section called “Progressive Picks” where they offer books for sale, a portion of the proceeds (tax-deductible) going to their organization. They also provide articles, excerpts, and interviews related to their weekly pick. Everything loads quickly and there’s little superfluous junk on the pages. Truthout also has a sort of auxiliary site called “Buzzflash”, which has loads of headlines (sortable by freshness) as well as commentary.
  • Liberal America – This WordPress-driven site is one I am somewhat familiar with, as I was accepted as an author for them. I ended up not writing anything because I was admonished that it wasn’t an opinion site, yet it was clear to me there’s a very opinionated slant to all their articles. I’m fine with that, but I found the position confusing and, since the pay was very minimal, I decided to concentrate my efforts elsewhere. Nevertheless, the site is reasonably clean, loads quickly (without all the garbage that makes HuffPo so damned infuriating nowadays) and, with the exception of a tendency to republish older material (at least on their Facebook page), is timely and pertinent. The publisher and at least several of the writers are left-wing Christians.

Now for a little confession. When I read the comment asking my opinion of sites similar to The Huffington Post, which was last night, I did a Google search on the term “news sites similar to huffington post”. It was a bit disconcerting to find most of the hits returned were about HuffPo itself. I probably could have changed my query to get a more targeted set of responses, but I was able to find one site on the second page of hits that was what I was looking for. It’s entitled “Huffingtonpost.com – 50 Similar Sites and Alternatives” and I used it to navigate to most of the sites I mention above. I could have gone to most of them independently, but I wanted to check out some of the others.

In the list of 50 similar sites, there were a few that are not similar; at least not for the purpose I was asked to consider, which was sites with a definitely liberal, progressive, left-wing slant. Obviously, there are quite a few sites to check out and I suggest anyone who is interested (including my friend who requested my opinion) use this site to check them out. You can even vote on whether or not you agree with their picks.

My analysis is not terribly extensive, but I hope it’s helpful. I would like to reiterate what I mentioned in most of what I wrote about these sites. None of them take longer than a few seconds to load and, therefore, in addition to being left-leaning in content and position, they are also superior for ease-of-use and lack of irritating, multiple refresh instances. As always, I welcome any feedback others may wish to provide.


Martial Law or Cocooning?

A deserted Harvard Square

Twitter pic of Harvard Square

“It is the common fate of the indolent to see their rights become a prey to the active. The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt.” — John Philpot Curran

I came across an interesting blog post via my Facebook feed today. It’s a personal account of one man’s experiences and some of his thoughts during the Boston bombing and manhunt. The author, Phil Johnson, discusses a few interesting issues, the first of which is the contradictory feelings one has when simultaneously feeling relief you or your friends weren’t affecting by a tragic event, while knowing full-well others have been devastated. He concludes “You can’t really call that luck”, and I agree. It is the dialectic of life, the yin yang of our existence, karma. Poorly understood, I think it leads some to conclude life is a zero-sum game.

He goes on to explain his mental journey from envisioning the perpetrators (especially after seeing a picture of the younger brother, Dzhokhar) as “pure evil” to reading an innocuous tweet of his and thinking “What could be more human that that?” As one who generally believes people are complex and capable of both great good and despicable evil, I found this revelation interesting and somewhat instructive, but hardly new or particularly revealing.

There is one thing he writes about that got my attention, though. Keep in mind I’ve read a lot of personal accounts of the bombing and subsequent activities (you probably have too), so it’s not that I’m dismissive of the personal tragedies experienced. It’s just that this particular issue that kind of lept out at me is something many thoughtful people are discussing, though usually in a slightly different direction than I gleaned from this tidbit. Here’s his paragraph:

“Throughout the day I jumped between Twitter, Reddit, the Boston Globe, and local TV for news. Jeremiah, a PJA developer, wrote a blog post about how social media gave us all our own private situation rooms from which to monitor events, something totally absent during the events of 9/11, when we were still dependent on the mainstream media.”

There are, it seems to me, a whole bunch of important issues contained in this paragraph. One of them is the way our consumption and processing of news and information is being transformed by social media (further encouraged by the alternate realities of the incompetence and disingenuousness of the MSM). In case you didn’t click on the link in the quote of his I’ve provided, consider this other blog post written by a colleague who discusses the communication differences between 9/11 and the five days between April 15 and 19, which I think are truly profound.

However, what I find of greatest interest is sussing out the implications (if any) of the entire City “sheltering-in-place” during the manhunt. I’m not entirely certain how I feel about it. On the one hand, for the period of time everyone was confined to their homes a heavily militarized police force had complete control of the City streets. On the other hand, the people of Boston, Watertown, etc. seemed quite willing to forego a little bit of freedom to expedite the search for a perpetrator they wanted to be caught. So, is their willingness a product of a situation in which most everyone was on the same page regarding the desired outcome, or is it an indication our citizenry is slowly giving control of the streets to law enforcement? Furthermore, is this a good thing or is it something more sinister and less-than-benign?

Some may argue it’s “unpatriotic”, perhaps cynical, of me to question what seems to have been a salutary outcome. However, I’ve never been one to believe the end justifies the means. This is one reason due process of  law is so important in this country. It provides, theoretically, a means to ensure all are treated fairly. As well, it’s hard to be sanguine in the face of the possibility we are slowly giving way to the transformation of our nation into a police state. At the pace I’m envisioning, most would not notice and, once in place, would be difficult to convince it had happened. I don’t have a good answer to these questions. Neither do I wish to be paranoid. I do, however, want to explore the implications further. I would like to see others do the same.


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