How To Stay Informed

Feeling overwhelmed by today's headlines? Here's how to stay informed with balance and discernment.

Image Credit: Erika Raxworthy

A forever timely post we wanted to reshare again this year. 

On the anniversary of our Sept 11th American tragedy, we wanted to take pause to spotlight the gratitude we have for this great age of information. Technology has changed the landscape of how we read, digest and accept (or sometimes reject) information, and as modern women, we're grateful.

Yet it all feels a bit overwhelming at times, a massive stream of ever-updated current events - wars, protests, controversies, judgments. We wondered, "Is it possible to stay informed with a heart of discernment for what we're reading?"

We enlisted the help of our wise, dear friend Andrea Wishom, who finds herself entrenched in current events daily. As Executive Vice President / Executive Producer of Harpo Studios and OWN, staying informed is in her job description, and it's a craft we believe she's nearly perfected. Read her wise words below, and may we all seek to balance what we read with what we know to be true in our hearts:

We're often overwhelmed by today's news, but also feel it's important to stay abreast on the latest and greatest of the world at large. What are some ways we can stay informed while maintaining a clear sense of perspective and discernment?

You're right; we're overwhelmed by today's news, and we do it to ourselves. It's our own fault because what we're consuming is on us. We instinctively know that the lead story most nights on the evening news will be what's going wrong in the world. It's one thing to KNOW what's going on, it's another to know what to DO about it in our daily lives. In a lot of ways ,we're not treating our own consumption of news as part of our overall well being. We exercise, we eat right and we should make good decisions about balancing what we take in about the world and how to have a healthy awareness around it. So I'm glad you're asking these questions about perspective and discernment, because it's what I practice everyday.

And hey, I'm not saying shut it all down and close yourself off to the world around you. Quite the opposite. Instead, balance it with what's right in front of you. Be Here Now.

I need to know what's going on in the world and like knowing because we're all connected, so if girls are being kidnapped in Nigeria I absolutely want to know about it. I'm a bit of a conspiracy theorist though and that's worked well because I question everything. I have a raised eyebrow when I see the same headline or nothing deeper than the surface area, or obvious damage of a story. Maybe it's because I know how "the sauce is made". But maybe it's also because I have a curiosity that goes well beyond what I'm told about the headline? Curiosity has led me to greater empathy.

When I hear or read about a story I'm curious about, my immediate action is to go to that town, city, state or country's news website. For example, earlier this summer, I clicked on Jerusalem Post regularly to keep up with the Gaza crisis there.

When the Boston Bombings happened I signed up for the Boston Globe and checked their site regularly, including their twitter account. I can't change the story, but having the facts told to me by the people closest to it in some way calms me. I feel informed and connected.

I think it also gives me a sense of the real "tone" of the story too, and that is also empowering. I learn in real time how others deal with hardship difficulty and even tragedy. There's so much to learn from that and I have greater empathy.

Are there any specific news outlets you consider a go-to source for world news?

For overall global news, I browse Time, The Week, BBC, NPR, NY Times, and I also go to the local sites for a specific country or city, etc.

You have a unique position in that your career so closely intersects with current events. How has staying informed provided growth and gratitude in your daily life?

I feel lucky everyday that I was born in the US, born where I have the freedom to choose so many things and I feel most grateful of those things when I choose to read about the things happening in the world around me.

Finally, it is our deepest belief that world change can exist on a small scale; that individuals truly do make a difference. What is your advice to those of us with the passion to change something we've read about in the news?

I think the easiest thing we can do is share how a story's affected us but that requires doing more than just a retweet or a "like." It involves sharing your passion, sharing your pain and giving a greater perspective. Giving others a new perspective or new way of looking at an issue or a story IS changing the world, particularly if the point of view is from a place of compassion.

On a more practical level, there is something to connecting to the local journalists who are reporting on an issue. Showing an interest in them, in what they're seeing on the ground and experiencing on the front lines is always powerful, and validates their work, which I appreciate and think is so necessary.

Thank you, Andrea, for such wise words. Tell us, friends, what is your current events strategy? Do you take intentional steps to stay informed? We'd love to hear!