It has been 18 months since Hillary Clinton announced her candidacy for president of the United States and 16 months since Donald Trump did the same. Now, we have just one month left before Election Day.
If it is not on your calendar already, add November 8 and circle it!
It might seem we have been inundated enough with political news and coverage of the various presidential campaigns in the last year and a half, but it is important to remain engaged up until Election Day (and beyond!). Whether you are looking for a new face to Make America Great Again, have been With Her since day one, or are planning to throw your support behind a third-party candidate, here are five tools we can (and should) use to stay up-to-date on current events and political issues.
1. A Reliable Fact-Checking Site
Why You Need It: I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but sometimes politicians lie. And sometimes they misrepresent the truth, omit significant facts, or otherwise toe the line between truth and fiction. Bookmark a reliable non-partisan fact-checking site to help you separate the truth from everything else. Many major news sites also include their own fact-checking round-up articles after major events, such as the presidential debates.
2. A Daily News Round-Up
Why You Need It: Thanks to the Internet and rise of the 24-hour news cycle, there is almost always a new current event or policy issue about which you can learn. But this constant stream of new information also means it can be hard to pick out what is most important for you to know each day. Subscribe to a daily news round-up to receive a brief summary of the day’s news in your inbox each morning. Also check with your preferred news source to see if it offers its own version of a daily email round up.
3. A Credible News Source
Why You Need It: As a trained journalist, I admit no news source is completely without bias. I could write an entire article about this idea alone, but suffice it to say that even though no news source is completely unbiased, some are more fair and objective than others. When evaluating your preferred source of news, consider asking the following questions to determine whether you are getting relatively unbiased information: Who are the sources? What authority do they have, and do they represent and share diverse perspectives? Do the reporters offer any support for their claims? If so, is it anecdotal, statistical, or something else?
Also remember to look at the vocabulary used in each news story. How does the news source identify their subjects (e.g. by first name, last name, title, a demographic attribute, etc.), and is this identification consistent for all subjects? How are statistics presented? Think of the difference between writing “nearly one-third of Americans support” and “less than one-third of Americans support.” The connotation of chosen words is also important; consider the difference between phrases such as “affirmative action” and “reverse discrimination,” or “pro-life” and “anti-abortion.”
4. A Trusted Aggregate Source
Why You Need It: It is great to have a preferred news source, but it’s also important to look at other sources to ensure you are getting a more complete picture. News aggregators allow you to easily see all political headlines from a particular day at a glance. Your own RSS and Twitter feeds can also be useful tools, as long as you are actively following news sources with different perspectives to avoid seeing a homogenous take on political issues.
5. A Political Podcast
Use: NPR Politics Podcast
Why You Need It: Using just one of the above four tools can be very useful in helping you prepare to vote on November 8. But if you’re a bit of a political or news junkie who wants even more, I recommend subscribing to a political podcast for a more in-depth look at important issues. I personally listen to the NPR Politics Podcast, but if you have a particular podcast you love for political news, please let us know in the comments!
Finally, while November 8 is certainly an important day for America, we encourage all Everygirls to stay engaged in the political process every year—not just during presidential election years. You also have the power to influence decisions made in your local communities and on county and state levels, which can often have more impact on your daily lives than decisions made at a national level.
So please, get out and vote on November 8, and use this toolkit in the meantime to stay informed and make the best decisions for you!