Internet 101: Following the News Online

Internet 101: Following the News Online

Keeping up with the news online can seem tricky at times. There are a lot of news sources out there, and not everyone gets enough out of simply checking a couple news websites every day.

Fortunately, there are a number of ways to keep track of the news online. Here are just some of the ways you can keep up with the news from your computer or smartphone:

Use social media

Facebook is an increasingly popular way to keep up with the news. There are a lot of benefits to doing this, but there are definitely downsides to keep in mind. Some of the benefits are below:

  • Friends often share articles with similar interests to yours
  • You can follow most news sites on their Facebook pages
  • You can get notifications when the page posts
  • You can create a separate feed with just news pages in it
  • Everything is combined in one place instead of scattered among different sites

Some of the downsides are below:

  • If you don’t create a separate feed for news, you will see a lot of non-credible sources with misinformation
  • Facebook feeds aren’t typically in chronological order
  • Some pages don’t show up in your feed as often as others
  • It’s difficult to personalize the notifications you get
  • You have to hide sources you don’t want to see

Overall, if you’re careful, you might enjoy using Facebook for online news. But it’s not particularly advised to only use Facebook for news, especially if you don’t create a separate news feed for it.

Twitter is another popular social media option for news. Like with Facebook, there’s always a chance for false news and the spread of misinformation. However, there are some great aspects of Twitter when it comes to getting your news online. For instance, you can choose to follow most news organizations on Twitter. You can also look at what’s trending very easily. Also, news typically breaks more quickly on Twitter than on Facebook. Sometimes news breaks on Twitter before it even makes it onto most news websites.

Try an RSS app (or other aggregator app)

RSS feeds are a tried-and-true source for news. RSS stands for “rich site summary,” or sometimes “really simple syndication.” RSS feeds are available on many websites (though its popularity may have waned somewhat). It compiles the new information or updates from a website. For instance, RSS feeds for a news website will update each time a news article is posted. These updates show the news post in a stripped-down and basic format.

With access to a website’s RSS feed (which is still often linked to on many websites), a news aggregator can be created. An aggregator can compile all the updates from numerous different feeds. This means a custom news aggregator could show all the updates for the news sites you choose. There are also aggregators that don’t rely on RSS, using their own methods to compile news from different sources.

There are ways to create custom feeds on both a desktop and through an app. Apps are a highly popular way to access news aggregators. They allow access to the news everywhere you go with your phone. Here are just some of the RSS apps you might try, plus one aggregator that isn’t RSS:

Feedly is available in the App Store and on Google Play. You can choose what’s included in your feed. Not only can it include blogs and news sites with RSS feeds, it can even include YouTube channels that you follow. You can also browse for other sources that might interest you.

Flipboard is a hugely popular aggregator available in the App Store and on Google Play. It doesn’t typically work like most other RSS apps. You choose interests and topics, and then Flipboard creates a personalized e-magazine of sorts for you. It tends to bring you content that you might not have found otherwise. However, you now have the option to add other RSS feeds to your magazine. If you know the URL to your favorite news website’s RSS feed, you can direct your Flipboard magazine to it.

Flym is another more typical RSS aggregator app and is available on Google Play. It allows you to add all your RSS feeds to one place. You can even read content offline. You can search through articles and create filters for your feed. Flym is a straightforward option for news aggregating.

Inoreader is available in the App Store and on Google Play. It offers different topics you can choose from to see in your feed. You can also choose from different news sources, and you can use a link to an RSS feed to add a different source to your feed if it’s not readily available in the app. It allows offline reading, and it also tracks what you’ve read so it only shows you unread articles when you open the app. Inoreader is another straightforward option for compiling your news in one app.

Nuzzel is the non-RSS app in this list. It’s available in the App Store and on Google Play. With Nuzzel, you simply build a custom feed by choosing between feeds on different topics and in different areas. Feeds can also center around certain types of people, like people in a specific profession. You can open the app to scroll through your customized feed, and you can get custom newsletters sent to you. If you don’t necessarily want or need to mess with finding specific news sites to add to your app, Nuzzel is a good option.

Use an RSS aggregator website

As mentioned above, you can combine numerous RSS feeds into one place. This doesn’t necessarily have to be done through an app. If you prefer to read your news on a desktop, here are some websites you might use:

Digg is majorly popular in the RSS feed world. You can explore top stories and other categories. You can also add different RSS feeds to your personal feed. This is a great website for building a customized feed and also discovering new feeds you might want to add to your own.

Feedly has already been mentioned—its app is listed above. But you can also use Feedly’s website instead of an app. It essentially works the same way as through the app. You get the same features, but you don’t have to download another app to your phone. Their website doesn’t work great from, say, a smartphone, so you’ll certainly want the app if you’re on a mobile device of some sort. But if you’re on your computer, Feedly’s website works well.

Create Google News alerts

If you want to keep really up-to-date with specific topics, Google News alerts are the way to go. It’s different from scrolling through the news, of course—you just get alerts for news stories you’ve chosen. But this can be great if you mostly follow the news casually and have a few specific things you want to be really on top of.

It’s easy to set up an alert. From the Google News alerts page, just enter what you want alerts for. Then you can look at more settings and decide how often you want to receive alerts, what kind of sources they should come from (blogs, videos, etc.), and even what region the content is coming from. It will even show you a preview of the kind of content you’ll receive. Check out Google News alerts if there are specific subjects you want to follow closely.

Subscribe to emails from news websites

This one seems obvious, mostly because it’s a fairly old-school way to keep up with the news. It’s still really useful for a lot of people, so give it a try. Most news websites will give you the option to sign up for newsletters or get things like daily digests on certain types of news.

But of course, if you’re interested in multiple websites, you can accumulate a lot of emails. Also, you might not want to have news mixed in with your personal emails. And it can sometimes be hard to personalize it.

If you only have one or two websites you’re interested in and you’re not worried about too much customization, go to your favorite websites and look for email signups. You can often find this at the bottom of the website.

Use a smart speaker

You can also get your news online in a different way—through audio. If you have a smart speaker, like an Amazon Echo, you can set your device up to give you news updates. For instance, in your Alexa Skills, you can enable skills like CNN Flash Briefing, NPR Hourly News Summary, and even local news stations. These are added to your Flash Briefing ability, and you can then ask Alexa to play your Flash Briefing. You can reorder how the news reports play, and you can enable and disable them whenever you want. If you want to listen to your news updates, take a look at your smart device and see what options are available.

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