Lets face it, staying up-to-date with politics during election season can get pretty confusing. Long headlines, intense debates and new terms can cause you to dismiss what is really going on in the world. Even though it can be difficult to stay informed, it is important that you understand your government officials to have a fair voice when it comes to elections. The following are seven essential ways to stay informed and up-to-date on politics.
- Select a Traditional News App
How many times a day do you check your phone? There are plenty of objective news outlets that offer mobile versions of their online content. Using these applications can make it easier for you to stay informed, whether you’re on your way to work, school, on the train or simply taking a walk. Make sure to turn on their notifications to follow political news or updates on important stories. Some unbiased news applications that cover politics are Associated Press, CNN, CBS News or NPR. If you’re short on time, some of these applications even offer video news coverage so you can listen in or view news.
- Use (Some) Social Media Outlets
Social media is another great way to stay connected to political news. Although this may be, it is important you make sure the content you are reading on social media is originating from a credible source. Look for verified Instagram or Twitter accounts so you know the political news is accurate and trustworthy. Avoid social media sites like Facebook when it comes to reading online news. Facebook was found to refer to untrustworthy news sources over 15 percent of the time. Twitter is a great place to receive news or updates because verified news outlets or politicians often tweet out breaking stories or political updates.
- Listen to News Podcasts
Similar to news apps, podcasts are a great way to stay informed on the go. Not only can you listen to them while you commute, but they often summarize or condense political news so you can listen to them rather quickly. Some political podcasts you can listen to are “Left, Right & Center,” “Political Gabfest,” and “The NPR Politics Podcast.” There are even some comedic podcasts for those who might need some more motivation when it comes to staying up-to-date on politics. Some more humorous podcasts are “The Political Party,” “Fake the Nation,” and “Lovett or Leave It.”
- Watch TV
Like social media use, you have to be careful with what news you are viewing on television. Some news stations tell their stories in a biased manner and may not present all the facts based on what political party they align with. For example, Fox News and Breitbart News are thought of as biased and create their stories with a political angle. Although this may be, watching TV is a great way to quickly stay informed as news segments are mostly brief and tell their news stories often around 41 seconds.
- Get Politically Involved
Sometimes the best way to stay up-to-date on politics is to be hands-on. There are plenty of events you can attend that can help you better understand politics too. Some colleges even offer meetings where students can gather and discuss political views. You can even attend local rallies to learn more about what exactly politicians are campaigning. Check out online forums to view what others are discussing or debating as well. The more interested you become, the more motivated you will be to actually keep up with politics. Explore your options and you will eventually learn how to stay consistently knowledgeable about politics.
- Attend Town Hall Meetings
If staying up-to-date on global politics is a bit more difficult for you, try getting involved in local politics first. Local politics is sometimes considered more important than national politics. Not only does your vote count, but local politics helps resolve things that affect your everyday life, and the lives of people whom you actually know and interact with. When you attend these town hall meetings your voice is actually heard in front of your local politicians and you get to really see how politics work up close. Another great thing about local politics is the fact that they are nonpartisan elections. Getting involved in politics can seem intimidating for the sole fact that supporters of the left or right party are known to fiercely debate each other. Nonpartisan elections ease this tension as no one is choosing a political party to support.
- Do Your Research on American History and Civics
Staying up-to-date obviously implies keeping up with current events or politics, but that doesn’t mean researching American history can’t help. American history can help you understand how politics run today. You can also research how some government agencies work, learn more about the branches of government, contact your elected officials and learn more about the U.S. in general by visiting USA.gov. The National Constitution Center is also a great resource where you can listen to informative podcasts, view online exhibits and programs and view an actual breakdown of the Constitution. These websites may not summarize what politics are like today, but they certainly do help you understand how some government agencies originated as well as how complicated political terms are used.
Staying up-to-date on politics can seem overwhelming at first, but once you move past understanding the basics it is a breeze. It is more important than ever to try and understand local and global politics today. With everything going on in the world, your vote counts more than ever. Do your research, select your ideal news channel and go from there.