Monday, March 07, 2005

Places I Get My Sources

Many people I talk to seem impressed by the things I know. There's no special talent involved, simply knowing where to look, something I acquired during debate. Here's a cursory list of places where people like me get information.Roughly speaking, there are a few levels of sources. There's first level information like newspapers and investigative reporters. They try to evenhandedly report the information as they perceive it, putting aside their political beliefs as much as possible. Then there are filtered sources, things like newspapers and magazines appealing to a particular audience. These often try to be objective but are unabashed about writing assuming particular things. Finally, there are think tanks, people who do analyses of what is going on. If you want to make an argument, it helps to have both more objective councils/think tanks/reports and editorializing sources.Z Magazine Available online at Z Mag is a classic left newspaper run by Michael Albert. They have voluminous archives of speeches, audio debates, articles, etc. I can't even imagine the material I have yet to read on this site. Go on a frenzy here. I should warn the prospective reader that it is an explicitly and unapologetically leftist website. This is where you can find mostly secondary material, though there's definitely a lot of very good stuff linked off of here and on the corresponding blog system, There are even whole Chomsky books archived.Counterpunch Available online at A similarly leftist periodical, though the attitude is somewhat different here. It's run by Alexander Cockburn.Wall Street Journal. Partially available online at This is a very conservative newspaper, but it does some of the most serious work in the country. I personally hold my nose when I read this, but I do it anyways for research projects.Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. Great stuff for people concerned about nuclear weapon and war issues. According to the Bulletin, "The mission of the Bulletin is to educate citizens about global security issues, especially the continuing dangers posed by nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, and the appropriate roles of nuclear technology." Great source of information from the people whose jobs are on the line in this field.RAND Corporation. One of the more objective think tanks, RAND is a great source for a variety of things... but they don't always say the things you'd want them to. Like all think tanks, they have a general partisan outlook that comes out in the aggregate, but there are gems.CATO Institute. These guys are a bit more complex. CATO is the place where libertarian capitalists go to grow up. Their reports give a veneer of objectivity to policies I find repugnant. Nonetheless, there's great stuff here too. And, if anyone cites CATO against you, you can laugh and say "Might as well cite Ayn Rand, buddy". They're a double-edged sword: They're maniacs who occasionally say really useful things, but... they're maniacs.Brookings Institution. According to the Brookingsers themselves, "An independent research and policy institute. Web site contains briefing papers, analyses, and other resources related to many current political issues." Another great source for ostensibly unbiased information.New York Times. People may wonder why I put the New York Times so late in a list of sources of information. Frankly, I don't think the Paper of Record is that serious of a paper - it's urbane New York pseudo-liberal bullshit, mostly. Nonetheless, this is where the history is made. The New York Times Book Review, on the other hand, is a great source, and I quote it on one of my earlier articles about big pharma.The Progressive. Another classic leftist periodical.Mother Jones And another.Anarchy Archives. Sorry, just had to include this. :) Anarchy. Why not throw this in? By the way, there's a lot of distinctions and divisions in the anarchist movement... International Information Service. More fun stuff.Institute for Social Ecology. Founded by Murray Bookchin, someone very familiar to an old high school policy hack like myself. Murray's the classic green anarchistGreg Greg Palast is one of the few serious investigative journalists left - he's so muckraking that he's not published in America often, but has had to be published in the Guardian in Britain.The Guardian. A British liberal newspaper.Associated Press. One of the main newswire services. These guys are essential: newswires are where the real stories are published before they go through the corporate-propaganda filtering process. There's still a residue here, but if an AP article doesn't make it to the NYT, there's a good chance I can tell you why.Reuters. Another major newswire service, more focused on financial matters.By the way: I almost never go to libraries and I sure as hell don't pay through my nose for subscriptions to periodicals. Furthermore, I never did in debate, and neither did my team. (We had a TIME subscription for awhile as part of those free credit card deals, actually, and Larry had a Progressive and Newsweek sub, but hey). The Internet is a simply massive archive of almost anything you could want, which is pissing off high school teachers who want their kids to stay in the Stone Age, going to dismal libraries. I say, onto the future! Save some gas and some trees, read the New York Times online and copy the articles to a Word document.So, that's a cursory list. There's plenty more good stuff, and if anyone has any question, you can drop me a line at or If you ever need to find out something about the world, that combined with the major search engines (Yahoo, MSN and Google) will let you get where you need to go. And if you have to visit a library, by all means do. Libraries are there for a reason.


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