Tim Squirrell is a PhD candidate in Science and Technology Studies at the University of Edinburgh. His research focusses on construction and negotiation of authority and expertise on the internet, with a focus on fitness and nutrition communities.

Staying up to date with Current Affairs

Staying up to date with Current Affairs

This is a post primarily aimed at people on the competitive debating circuit aiming to stay up to date with news and current affairs. This knowledge is important not just because knowing more about the world (if you have the capacity to do so) is likely to make you a better person, but also because motions can and do come up at tournaments which will be based (either loosely or closely) on topics in the news and themes in events over recent weeks, months and years. Obviously the benefits of reading widely and keeping up with the news don't only accrue to debaters, so if you don't indulge in our odd pesudo-sport, this may still be of interest to you.

If you're looking to stay current on current affairs but don't have time to read the entirety of the Economist/New Statesman/Spectator (boo)/Foreign Policy, there are a few good morning newsletters out there.

1. Stephen Bush's morning email from the New Statesman is short and covers one major issue in relative detail before providing abstracts and links to other goings-on. It often has a British or European bent, and the spin is usually reasonably left-wing (as you'd expect from the NS), but it's well-informed, clear and succinct. You can subscribe to it here: http://www.newstatesman.com/staggers-morning-call

2. Vox has two newsletters. There's Sentences, which is a bit longer than the Morning Call but covers a mix of US and international news. It tends to cover a few stories in a fair bit of detail, with links to a large number of different articles embedded within for if you have a burning interest in something specific. You can read online or sign up to here: http://www.vox.com/vox-sentences

3. There's also VoxCare, which is a lot more specialised and specifically gives news on US healthcare. I personally find this topic really interesting, but I recognise that might not be the case for other people who are neither American nor policy/health geeks: http://www.vox.com/health-care

4. The Economist has an "Espresso" morning email, which you can get with a subscription to the magazine (or a digital subscription). I don't currently get it myself because my university has a free digital subscription to the Economist, but I've used it in the past and would recommend it. It contains short summaries (with a slight opinion element) of major world news, along with some things you might not know about.

5. In lieu of Espresso, The Economist also has a daily news briefing which you can subscribe to. You can read a few of the articles for free each month, but you're meant to sign up if you want full access. You could just use an incognito window to get around the article limit, but I couldn't possibly recommend such a dishonest practice. You can sign up to their newsletters here: http://www.economist.com/newsletters

6. I find The Atlantic's daily briefing, as well as their politics and policy newsletter, to be quite helpful. It's very US-centric, but given the sheer volume of (depressingly) relevant news coming out of the US recently, it's a good one to have on hand. They also have some fun facts in there to keep it lively (though I'm not sure about the one today that said "the average person is keeping 13 secrets at a time"). You can sign up here: https://www.theatlantic.com/world/

7. Continuing with the IR/politics theme, I also get a weekly email from The Diplomat, which deals specifically with the Asia-Pacific region. You'll need a subscription to access everything, but you can get some good articles for free: http://thediplomat.com/

8. I also get a weekly email from Aeon, which has a little more of a philosophy/ideas focus, but I'd recommend it for broadening horizons. There are often some nice bits on ethics which debaters might find helpful, and the style is quite refreshing: https://aeon.co/

9. There's also Project Syndicate, which has Op-Eds from famous people/thinkers/politicians. I don't tend to read this one all that much, but others quite like it: https://www.project-syndicate.org/about

10. For financial news, I get Finimize. It's got an advertised reading time of 3 minutes (though if you're anything like me it will take you significantly less (he said, like a wanker)), and it covers the main financial news of the day - usually 2 or 3 topics. Whilst this might not be of direct interest to you, and it's unlikely to be something that there's a motion on, it can be useful to know what's going on in the business world so you have an extra stock of facts and examples to draw on. You can get it here: https://www.finimize.com/

11. A good round-up of daily news comes from Daily Pnut. It comes in four sections: a "must read", "should read", "keeping our eye on", and "loose nuts", the latter of which gives abstracts for interesting articles elsewhere. It's here: http://www.dailypnut.com/

12. The Council on Foreign Relations has daily, weekly and quarterly briefings. In addition to their excellent Backgrounder series, this is a good way of keeping up to date on International Relations topics (they have about 100 million different newsletters on everything you can think of - take your pick): http://www.cfr.org/about/newsletters/

Do you have any newsletters you subscribe to? I'm always looking for more, especially if they don't involve me having to click through to any webpages.

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