There is too much going on these days for one person to take it all in. There is no single website, newspaper, pundit, blog, or TV show that you can read or watch that will give you even a fraction of the information you need to understand what is going on in the world. You can try do this alone, watching multiple TV news feeds simultaneously or going through all of the newsreader apps trying to find the best RSS feed discovery tools and up-to-the-minute updating features. If this sounds tedious, you could try a different tactic: starting a current events reading group with your friends.

People getting together to discuss current events is nothing new. Coffee houses of the European mercantile age and the salons of early modern France were formed for just this purpose. Knowledge is power and with a group you are much more likely to learn and get exposed to opposing philosophies and opinions than you are alone. A current events group will give you and your friends and outlet to discuss the events of the day and to share each other's insights which will make every member a more informed citizen.

Fill in the gap left by the "mainstream media"

A current events group operates much like a book club where members read books to discuss at meetings. At a meeting for your current events group, however, members will be expected to bring a news article for discussion as well as reading a book or watching a documentary to discuss as well. The main problem with news media today is that it provides very little historical or social context for the issues they discuss. Producers and writers are forced to jam as many stories into an hour as they can which leaves important information out. A well-sourced academic work on public policy, ideology, philosophy or economics adds crucial insight into events that a news article or video clip simply can't compensate for.

How to organize a current events reading group

To start your current events reading group, get some friends together and have them all bring a news article they want to discuss. Afterwards you can watch a documentary as a group and then discuss what problems you saw with the documentary, what issues it raises, and how it relates to the current events you talked about earlier. If you and your friends are so inclined you can add a book to this as well. Set rules on manners and civility; few people will keep showing up if every meeting devolves into a vitriolic shoutfest (and those that do probably aren't there for the current events discussion.)

Advertisement

It is important to also take in a local perspective on current events. It can be easy to focus on national and global stories but what is going in your community will effect you much sooner than most global catastrophes. Make sure to choose a few stories from your area and also relate other stories to how they impact your community.

Keep it fun!

Your current events reading group is ultimately a social club, so do your best to keep it fun. Current events can be incredibly depressing topic filled with brutality and negligence. If you decide to read a book for discussion or watch a documentary at each meeting try to find ones that look for solutions as too many of them focus on just enumerating the problems. A great one I've recently watched is called YERT: Your Environmental Road Trip which follows three friends on a cross-country adventure interviewing people creating green movements and businesses to fix America's many ecological problems. Playing a game after discussion, whether it be a board game or a few rounds of Smash Bros, can be a great way to unwind after a heated debate.

Advertisement

Staying up-to-date on all the matters of the day is tedious. With a current events group you can look at the issues with more efficiency and enjoyment than if you were to do so completely on your own. The insights you can get from friends and fellow members give you an edge that can't be compensated for on your own and can help you connect these issues to your community in a way web forums and comment sections can't mimic. And in a world where knowledge is power, can you really afford to be left behind?