Yes, the title of this post is a nod to the Discworld series, which I was very kindly introduced to by one of my friends when I was in my third year – and a series that I am yet to fully read through. This will be the year that happens, I feel that in my bones. But this is not a post about magic, or any of those arts. It’s more about the news and the ways I consume news on the daily.
I’ve been reading the newspaper for a long time. My introduction to the newspaper was originally because my cursive writing was suffering a little, so my father thought it would help me if I could copy out an entire news article – specifically the Editorial each day. The habit lasted around a month or so, before it faded away. As a source of information, my mother put me to task by offering up the newspaper on the table when I ate my cereal. I didn’t understand most of it in Grade 4 or Grade 5, but I got into the habit of reading as I ate breakfast. I started from the Sports section, a section I definitely understood, and stopped at the middle pages because it was time to go to school.
In Grade 6 and 7, I read nothing news-related. I don’t even actually remember too much of what was newsworthy between those years. Grade 8 saw a shift of schools and of priorities and things, and as I began to debate a little more and attend Model United Nations conferences, I understood the value of being a little more informed about the happenings in the world. I began to read the paper when I was in the mood to do so. It was by no means daily. My mom read the paper daily and my dad was super well-informed about regional information, which meant there was some amount of pressure at home for sure, but it often manifested itself in the form of my mother clipping out articles from the paper or writing “Tejas To Read” in an attempt to ensure I actually read.
Grade 9 and 10 saw me introduced to mint and mint lounge. That was influenced in part by my desire to understand international economics and international finance better. What it ended up doing though is broadening the kind of information I sought out on the internet when I surfed it daily from the beanbag in my room. I became a little obsessive about the Model UN circuit in Bangalore around the same time, and I genuinely believed that aside from oratory skills something essential to success in the activity was being a little more informed. I used that as an excuse to read all sorts of things related to the agendas I was researching for.
In Grades 11 and 12, when I began to prepare for the Common Law Admission Test, I subscribed to The Economist and a magazine that was aimed at competitive exam aspirants: Pratiyogita Darpan/Competition Success Review. I took the weekly/monthly editions and carried it in my bag, reading it on the bus ride to and from school, when I wasn’t sleeping. Those became my primary sources of world information.
Graduating to University saw me understand how biases function in media and reporting – an offshoot of my experiences debating, and I tried to pepper my news diet with a range of sources across the spectrum. My reading is eclectic, to say the least. I remember that for some time in second year, Facebook News became my go-to to find out what was happening in the world. It was a crazy time.
In the last one year, something I’ve noticed is that I’ve started to read the Guardian with an alarming frequency. It started off because I followed a couple of football matches and formula one races on the guardian website and enjoyed the reporting there. Subsequently, I read through a couple of news reports about Brexit, and one longform article, which looked good. I downloaded the mobile application. Soon I had subscribed to a couple of newsletters they sent out. Then I added them to my Feedly. And my goodness, there’s so much content they churn out every single day. More often than not, the conclusion of any perspective or argument they put out ends up agreeing with my internal biases and prima facie opinions I’ve formed, which means I go along to recommend that article to people as well.
That’s created a bit of an echo chamber for me, which I’m trying to tackle by exploring alternate sources of reporting as well.
But that doesn’t solve the problem entirely. Search algorithms all over the internet appear to have picked up the frequency with which I visit The Guardian’s website, because most of my top hit results are from that site as well. And the world must be working in some really, really mysterious ways because GUESS WHAT – the last book I read? It’s called Play It Again. I picked it up because the story appealed to me: a non-fiction tale of an older man trying to learn Chopin’s Ballades.
The man is the Editor-in-Chief of the Guardian.
So, this is a plea: if you have other sources that write as broadly, as well, and as engaging as The Guardian’s pieces are, recommend them to me. Thank you. Sidenote: they should be free too.