A Balanced Media Diet for 2021

How to be an informed citizen in an era of deception.

A Media Diet Pyramid

First, A Brief History of Media

To begin, a quick discussion of how we got here. It is important to understand that a biased and chaotic news media is nothing new to this country. It has been generations since the media has been so diverse, but in the 1920s and 1930s it was common for a major city to have as many as a dozen daily newspapers. Each newspaper generally had a clear viewpoint and bias known to all: the “Republicans’ paper,” the “labor paper,” the “Italians’ paper,” and so on. Most people read only one newspaper, but it was quite easy for anyone to buy a half-dozen papers one day and get a sense of the range of debate on a particular issue.

Second, A War for your Mind

And that brings us to where we are today. On one hand, we have a profusion of news sources and a concomitant difficulty discerning the honest ones from the deceptive ones. On the other hand, we have large legacy media corporations who desperately want to put the genie back in the bottle and regain control of the narrative. Much as there are fast food conglomerates that use advertisements to coerce you to eat one way or another, these media corporations would like nothing better than to convince you that the world was better when there were fewer sources, that it’s inconvenient to read a diversity of news sources, and that they’re best suited to determine for you which news sources are trustworthy and which are “fake.”

“Any dictator would admire the uniformity and obedience of the American media”

— Noam Chomsky, before the advent of the internet

Put simply, there’s a war on for your mind. The power to control a society’s narrative about its present is tantamount to controlling that society’s future.

Third, The Remedy

With food, any diet consisting of just one single food repeated over and over will lead to disease. Similarly, any one news media source consumed exclusively becomes disinformation. Even spending a little more time to watch two channels of the same food group provides a broader perspective on things, but given the media consolidation mentioned above that transpired over the last half century, even this effort inevitably leaves one with a narrow view of the world.

Fourth, What Happens When We Stay in Thought Bubbles

It doesn’t take an exhaustive review of history to find cases where great tragedies have befallen nations when the majority of the people have been continuously deceived by a single group of media sources. The Iraq War, which killed over a million innocent people and cost trillions of dollars, is one very recent such case. The Nazi holocaust is another. Tiananmen Square. The list goes on. Rising to the mental challenge of reading diverse media sources is, I believe, a worthwhile endeavor.

THE SIX MEDIA FOOD GROUPS FOR 2021

1. Foreign News. This food group includes any and all news and viewpoints originating from outside the United States, particularly from non-English speaking countries. Consuming media from this group is critical for reaching an informed opinion not just as a citizen of the country but as a member of this human race. 10% of the 2021 diet.

THE DIET

You’ve gotten this far, so you have both an interest and a bit of time to devote to a balanced awareness of our news media and the events and ideas shaping our world. Thank you and congratulations. Greater consciousness is right around the corner.

Three Levels

The diet has three levels to fit your available time. If you haven’t been conscious of your media consumption before, start with 30 minutes a day; it will have an enormous impact on your awareness of the country and world around you. After just two weeks, you will begin to have an entirely different experience watching and reading news media.

  1. BASIC. “Conscious Citizen.” (30 minutes daily)
  2. ADVANCED. “Journalist.” (90 minutes daily)
  3. EXPERT. “Media Critic.” (180 minutes daily)
The Balanced Media Diet for 2021. Each source’s color matches its food group on the pyramid. ‘$’ indicates the source has a partial paywall.

THE HIGHLIGHTED NEWS SOURCES FOR 2021

After extensive research and a weighted rating selection routine, I chose the following 40 networks, magazines, and individual journalists for your balanced 2021 diet. Feel free to supplement them with your own favorites, but always pay attention to the overall balance of your diet.

Networks

Al Jazeera — An international Arab news network with a full English version. Relatively open news coverage of international events. Based in Qatar, owned by a Qatari public-private partnership with significant funding from the Qatari government.
Media Food Group: Foreign Politics
Viewpoint: International, Middle Eastern, Arab
WATCH >

Magazines & Newspapers

The Atlantic — A liberal-leaning political journal in print since the 1800s. After changing hands several times recently, it’s now owned by the Emerson Collective, a foundation started by billionaire Laurene Powell Jobs, former Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ widow. Based in Washington DC.
Media Food Group: Independent Party Politics
Viewpoint: Democrat
READ >

Individual Journalists & Columnists

Sheryl Attkisson After three decades as a correspondent and anchor at PBS and CBS News, Attkisson resigned from CBS citing bias and a vanishing commitment to investigative journalism. She creates a weekly 20-minute investigative news show called Full Measure. Attkisson’s bias is mildly conservative but as a dyed-in-the-wool investigative journalist she lets the chips fall where they may.
Media Food Group: Independent True Politics
Viewpoint: Conservative
WATCH >
READ >

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