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Everyone from news aficionados to news beginners are welcome!

Hello there! Want to be more informed, but find the prospect of jumping into a newspaper for the first time to be intimidating? Or perhaps you’re a seasoned news junkie, but find yourself surrounded by people who don't have the time to bother? Do you believe that an informed electorate is an important step on the path to a free society, but have no idea how we get there? This group is for you! Come join us for thoughtful conversation on current events! Experience and interpret the world through the lens of facts, through the perspective of your fellow citizens! Learn to inform yourself! Learn to inform others! Join us, scalawags!

I don't know about you all, but I have found 2020 to be a crazy time. I think the most surprising thing to me about the era that we live in is that we as a society have never been so informed, yet so uninformed at the same time. The advent of cellphone cameras and online platforms such as Twitter have allowed us to be informed of situations on the other side of the world in real time; this was unimaginable just 30 years ago. Contrast that against the fact that, as of this group's creation, there are people out there who believe that Hugo Chavez helped Dominion Voting Systems steal the election from Donald Trump. Folks, Hugo Chavez died 7 years ago!

So, what happened here? How did we as a nation become so uninformed in the presence of so much information? I have a theory. Perhaps we have spent so long delegating what we think about current events to pundits on 24-hour news stations that we forgot how to think critically for ourselves. Did you know that MOST of what airs on CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC isn’t actually news? Most of what airs on those stations are known as ‘Opinion pieces’ or ‘Editorials’. Essentially, it’s mostly ‘experts’ like Sean Hannity telling you what to think about the news they read for you. It’s not just televised news that suffers from this. Most of the major newspapers have large editorial departments that pump out editorials and news analysis; experts that do the thinking for you, so you don’t have to do it yourself. What if we all stopped reading / watching the ‘cliff notes’ of news (the opinion pieces, the editorials, the ‘hot takes’ from our favorite Twitter handles, etc.), and started studying the source material? Thinking about what it might with our own minds, rather than waiting for someone to tell us what it means?

This group is going to be purely about discussing the source material. Prior to each meeting, members will submit pdfs of news articles from credible sources. During each meeting, we’ll discuss the articles and our interpretation. It’s my expectation that the news junkies will initially drive the discussions, but we welcome and encourage newbies to chime in! Ask questions, take notes! Those of us who have been reading for a long time are here to help those that want to learn how.

For newbies, my best advice to you is not to be discouraged! At first, discussions may feel like you’ve jumped into a very complicated novel halfway through. That’s okay! It’s normal. After a few sessions of listening to the news junkies talk, and asking some thoughtful questions yourself, you’ll be sounding like an expert yourself in no time!

News yourselves up, scalawags!

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