Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Another perspective

Over the past few months I've returned to reading an online magazine which I used to read a few years ago. I turned back to Slate to get another perspective on current events. I'd been used to reading Salon, but was getting tired of the same viewpoints expressed on every issue - How bad is Bush? and Why should he be voted out?

Now, I'm the last to say that President Bush should remain in office, but Salon's articles just seemed to go on and on. Worst of all, I knew they were preaching to the choir. They were simply writing for people who wanted to hear about how horrible Bush is. Granted, Salon has some other sections which are interesting, but the main thrust of the magazine is obviously anti-conservative. I recently let my subscription lapse and I don't feel like I'm missing out on anything.

So why Slate? A few reasons:

Good coverage on what's in national & international papers. This is actually quite a good resources since it gives you an idea of how different national papers cover the same story, but in different ways. Here's today's take on the papers. They do the same with international papers which is great for getting an idea of what's important to the rest of the world.

"Are you sure?" research on topics of the moment. Far from in-depth coverage, Slate offers something which is pretty cool...they confirm or refute various studies and popular opinion by doing some research into the numbers or other relevant facts. As an example, a recent Center for Public Integrity (CPI) report tried to show the connection between campaign donations & Iraq reconstruction contracts (eg, Halliburton & Bechtel, etc). While CPI said there was a direct connection, Slate showed that by the numbers, that's not the case. Of course, that's not to say that having friends in high places hasn't helped these companies, but Slate pointed out that the facts don't support CPI's assertions about donations directly leading to better contracts.

Generally, I like Slate because it has a light feel to skeptical, curious reporting. It doesn't take itself too seriously in the tone of writing, but at the same time, they have a clear stance on news..."Hey, wait a second..." I think this approach is much more useful than searching for exposes on neo-con baddies like Salon loves to do. I may not agree with everything that Slate has to say, but that's the point...I want to hear a good argument whether I agree with it or not.

Along the same lines, I don't stop my reading with the NY Times. I read the Economist, the Wall St Journal (when I get a chance) and various other publications that address issues which I think are important. While Salon addresses many of these issues, there's too much singing to the choir going on and too little skepticism about liberal thinking. Of course the NY Times is quite liberal, but I like to think that my reading of other pubs gives me a broader perspective than I would otherwise have.

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