Curating and critical thinking – What’s your flavor of news?

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The Internet is so vast a source of news that it’s impossible to keep up. Some news sites are gold, some are worthless, depending upon your worldview and your interests.

I’m a news curator with Doubtful News. I’m constantly on the lookout for the right stories to post on the site that might pique the interest of people who enjoy following the goings on of the paranormal community, the occasional anomalous stories and oddities, the strange and Fortean, and the plethora of questionable claims that the media latches on to.

Every day, there are hundreds of stories on these themes. Most are utterly worthless. They are the same stuff over and over, they are unsourced, thoughtless opinion or speculation, poorly written, or just ho-hum boring. Whenever I find one that grabs me, I want to share. I want to see what you think. So, I post it to the site.

Curation of news is a valuable thing these days. For years I relied on The Anomalist to bring me the news of the weird. I still visit everyday but the curation filters there have changed. I don’t want to visit personal blogs or citizen journalism sites for stories. They aren’t high quality. So, I curate the curated. If I find a good link via that site, I will pass it on, but through my filter instead.

Other curation projects that I never miss include Bob Blaskiewicz’s This Week in Conspiracy available at Skeptical Humanities. Even if I don’t click the links, I can see from the commentary the current insane ravings of this community. Also, every morning, I await the Morning Heresy for links to news about the atheism, humanism and secular community. This is the work of Paul Fidalgo at Center for Inquiry. Paul and I pick from each others projects a lot. Paul just gave an interview on the Token Skeptic about how the Morning Heresy came to be which I thought was really interesting. Go listen to it here. He talked about two things in particular that were insightful. First, curation of news is important. It’s a way to deliver the best news, especially with a particular interest, to the people who want to need to know. Second, he talked about how difficult it is with this constant firehose of information from the Net, and how it’s important to have that idea of how you present your summary of the day. It’s important to decide on and stick to the purpose you establish. Find your niche.

I found it humorous that I also talked to Kylie from Token Skeptic about the Doubtful News site. Paul and I ended up independently sharing a number of the same insights about our respective news curation.

I visit a number of other news sites (in secret) which are on the flip side of my philosophy. It’s sometimes rather ugly. I’ll admit that visiting other sites that DO NOT share your philosophy or world view is enlightening. You can see what others are saying. This is important. It can get you down but it’s something that should not be ignored or overlooked.

When I started Doubtful News, I was very much hoping for the pro-paranormal people to visit and use the site as a resource. I think they have. Somewhat. Two days ago, I posted a link to a story about a not-so-haunted mansion on the Paranormal subReddit. I was interested to see how many people would pay attention or perhaps comment on this story that was not at all flattering to the paranormal investigators crowd. Over 200 people clicked on the story via that link. There was not one comment left on the Reddit thread or on the story itself. As I write this right now, the votes up and down were split evenly. Half did NOT like the story, relegating my Reddit score to 0. This was instructive. Take from that what you will.

Sure, I could just send out a list of links everyday but that would be no fun. I have a voice and I can’t help using it so the sight will have a slant (it’s pro-science, skeptical) because I think that has some value. It doesn’t exists except in rare corners of the web. So, depending upon how you like your news flavored, there are many opportunities for delivery. But, curation, with whatever filter, keeps the gush of information under control.

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2 thoughts on “Curating and critical thinking – What’s your flavor of news?

  1. All too often, trying to find important, objective news is like searching through a toxic waste dump to find gold. We need better filters, due to what passes as “news” these days. Thanks for what you do.

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