Tips on How To Stay Informed on State, Local, and National Issues
Last Updated On:
January 13, 2020
While national news headlines often capture our attention, do not overlook what is happening in one's own community. Support one's local news outlets by subscribing to the newspaper, being a donor to NPR, and watching the television news. Without financial support, reporters won't be there to cover school board, city council, and all the other departments and agencies that keep communities humming. Following news from multiple outlets on an ongoing basis helps be an informed voter at election time.
Here are a few more ideas for staying informed:
Newsletters / Social media posts by elected officials and governmental bodies. Are the elected officials in your area talking about the issues that are important to you? More importantly, what actions are they taking? Is there consistency between what is being shared in social media posts versus other marketing communications and actions?
Attend governmental meetings in person or watch a livestream. See for yourself what elected officials are saying and doing. Depending on the meeting, giving public testimony during a public comment period may be an available option. If unable to attend in person, find out if meetings are televised on a local access channel, over the internet, or archived online. Does what you see match the marketing communications distributed by officials and reported by news outlets?
Use Ballotpedia for research. Covering local, state and federal politics, this neutral resource will help you answer questions you have about candidates and policies.
Utilize the summaries and notifications on Countable. This site provides summaries of upcoming and active legislation before Congress, with options for receiving updates on how your elected officials voted on a particular issue. This site includes user generated content, so there are a variety of perspectives attached to each item on the site. If your interest is Congress, look at GovTrack.us. The site's aim is to make information accessible and understable. They also provide voting record information.
Create a personal news feed using IFTTT. IFTTT, which stands for "If this, then that" is a free service that allows one to be notified when certain "things" happen. Start by browsing through collected applets for politics, activism, or news.
Subscribe to Wake Up to Politics. A weekday nonpartisan newsletter by Gabe Fleisher summarizing news from the White House, Congress, the Courts, and elections. It compiles and cross-checks information from multiple news outlets and the White House in one place.
Support organizations that align with your interests. Many organizations track legislation related to a particular interest area. Joining will keep you informed without the need for following the news on a day-to-day basis. Depending on the group, there may be opportunities for you to meet with your elected representatives in-person. For a counter-perspective, subscribe to the mailing list of an opposing organization. How are they framing the same issue? What actions are they taking, if any?
Concerned about all the email you may receive by signing up for additional newsletters? Sign up for an additional email account. Use this address for any new lists that you join. Depending on what you sign up for, don't constantly check the incoming email. Look at it once a day or once a week.
Challenge: Passionate about an issue facing your community? Submit a letter to the editor of your local paper. The New York Times has shared op-eds encouraging women to write letters to the editor and to submit online comments. Additional Reading: