OK, I never actually answered this one myself.
What I read:
- Pretty much every day: either de Volkskrant
, NRC Handelsblad
, occasionally Het Parool
, usually in the cafe. Those be Dutch newspapers. De Volkskrant
is left-leaning, Het Parool
is too but local (Amsterdam), Trouw
is liberal Christian and the NRC
used to be the classical liberal, ie rightwing, newspaper for the rich, now mainstreamed into a centrist paper with more in-depth reporting than the others.
I like the NRC
best for its more extensive reporting on foreign news; they've also got the best reporting on Eastern Europe. But it appears in the afternoon rather than the morning, which is a pain. De Volkskrant
is therefore in practice more the staple, and its reporting is perfectly OK too really, just a little more superficial and more prone to go with the hype or opinion of the day, plus their extras (you know, culture, science, health etc) are far too chatty, whereas the NRC
has good history pages for example. Trouw
is OK too, they have a few pages every day on religion which is always interesting, but foreign news really takes a back seat and its simply too thin - if I want only a bitesized portion of news I can just as well pick up the free Metro
at the station.
- I dont really read Dutch weeklies, they have little to offer beyond what the thick Saturday editions of the newspapers have.
- In the cafe or on Mondays in the library I sometimes read The Guardian
or The Independent
from the UK and I look up their websites regularly too; when I'm in cafe Polmans Huis I indulge in The Times
(their letters to the editor section is hilarious).
Problem is the blatant politization of British newspapers: I wouldnt know where to go for an objective view, which is frustrating. Also, barring the occasional special report they're mostly only interesting for the inside scoop on British politics; foreign news is relegated to an absurdly superficial/marginalised coverage. And even reporting on the UK is tainted by a probably indirectly tabloid-influenced obsession for crime reporting, which especially in The Times
seems to take up a third, sometimes half of their domestic coverage. Still, those Brits can write
: no other newspapers I know are as much fun to read as the British ones. Such clever turns of phrase that make you smile, such articulate wit, especially in columns and the like.
- Again in the library I sometimes read the Sueddeutsche Zeitung
(left-leaning) or the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
(right-leaning); also when there are elections in Germany or some neighbouring Central-European country I'd buy the FAZ
or Die Welt
(right-leaning), because the FAZ
is guaranteed to have the most scrupulously complete numbers and Die Welt
has the best info graphics ;-).
When I'm in Germany I usually buy the Tagesspiegel
from Berlin or alternatively, the Frankfurter Rundschau
because, German not being my native language, either is an easier and more overviewable read than the Sueddeutsche
, which with all its extras is the "fattest" newspaper I know; or the TAZ
, also from Berlin, to keep abreast of the latest in the leftist scene.
I also faithfully buy the weekly Freitag
, also from Berlin, whenever I'm in Germany, because it's always sure to have some original and well-written report on an undercovered subject and though sometimes all too dogmatically and intellectually leftist in editorial line or writing style, they are nevertheless open-minded enough to also regularly include eye-opening and unconventional takes. Plus, they have the most enjoyable "back page" with what-made-you-smile-today type observations and anecdotes in regular columns I know. (Also available online).
- Unavailable in Holland but always interesting to pick up when you're there are the English newspapers of Central and Eastern Europe: the Prague Post
(pretty OK), Warsaw Voice
(seen too few to judge), St Petersburg Press
(fair to poor), Budapest Times
(poor) and Budapest Sun
(very weak). Some others have come and gone: Budapest Week
, which had good culture and film sections, and the Czech Prognosis
, which was really cool but folded back in '93 or something.
- I used to be subscribed to the Hungarian Quarterly
, which is an amazingly interesting and well-crafted review of Hungarian history, politics and literature the size of a small book. Will still pick it up whenever I'm there. I took out a test subscription to Granta
once, which was also very nice (literature as well as some political background) and Lettre International
, which had great in-depth stuff on politics, culture and literature (even though it being available in German or French editions, it wasnt an easy read). But I cant afford those.
- From Belgium I read De Standaard
whenever I'm in cafe Polmans, which is a good mainstream newspaper of centrist bend with relatively quality reporting; French newspapers I only buy if there's elections or something, my French isnt good enough for more. When I do, I buy Le Monde
, both left-leaning (the former more traditional, the latter more liberal).
- Cant get any other American newspapers here than USA Today (which I never buy), the International Herald Tribune
(which I occasionally buy when travelling and consider a pretty good newspaper) and the New York Review of Books
, which is good but (too) expensive on import price. So the US stuff I look up online.
I read The New Republic
religiously as you'll have noticed - I disagree with much of their stance on Israel/Palestine and the war on terrorism - they're very hawkish and US-centred when it comes to foreign politics, they endorsed Joe Lieberman for God's sake; the same goes for their original take on Iraq. But this editorial stance is unnoticable in their many insightful and open-minded reports from elsewhere around the world (and they have a good Iraq blog now too). On US politics, they're unmissable, overall with a distinct political preference for the Dems yes, but with a very inclusive range of POVs among their writers and a very unencumbered approach to things, a willingness to explore and leave prejudices behind. Plus, their authors often write sharply and wittily. The only thing that bothers me is the perpetual sneer in their articles - they're not nice people
, I sometimes think.
sometimes does have a likewise unencumbered approach too and is definitely always an enjoyable read, but is still more for the faithful so to say, and often more superficial.
Otherwise, I regularly check in with the New York Times
and the Washington Post
, though for the day-to-day news (in the run-up to the elections for example) I relied more intensely on MSNBC
, which has a much more userfriendly website than CNN
. I also liked MSNBC
because it seemed to take a relatively neutral/unpartisan view - I have strong enough opinions of myself, I dont need the editors to impose theirs on me as well - and that seems to be a rare thing to find in America.
Not that the news is reported with half as much partisan fervour as in Britain - it isn't, if anything the NYT, WaPo and LAT report things in such a deliberately formal and cautious style they become quite bland to read - just that it's hard to get a sense of where to go to find out what the average
American would hear or see or think. The NYT and CNN I think are fine, but I dont trust to get a sense from them about how an average American sees things and when thats what I want to know, I have a problem, because the only national alernatives (Fox News
, Washington Times
and periodicals like The National Review
) are in turn positively raucously partisan from the right. Good to sniff at to find out whats brewing there, but hardly a credible alternative. So following the elections I ended up Googling up random local newspapers from different states to get a sense of how they saw things.
From the national papers (NYT
, Chicago Tribune
) I like the NYT
best, mostly for their background stories, bits of history and local stuff, where they recount events with flair and insight. Its just the day-to-day national politics that's turned into these standard-type press agency-like stories (lack of courage?). Oh, and I need to remember to check in with the Christian Science Monitor
once in a while, because when occasionally I see something from them, its usually pretty good.
What else ... when I'm interested in a specific topic I go to specific websites, on Central Asia for example, but thats kind of beyond the scope of this thread. And I'm sure I forgot some stuff.
Oh, I havent had a TV in a while. Used to get my news from the public broadcasters (fine), commercial stations (also OK) or the BBC
(good). Loathed CNN "International"
, which unlike BBC World
I didnt consider very "international" at all, either in its choice of coverage or its perspective. Plus the endless commercials, finance/business programmes and nonsense items on sports or glamour were tiresome. But mostly it was the hyped-up over-excited always-focusing on "breaking news" from whatever war currently has most to do with the US - lots of things exploding, symbolic interview with "man from the street", no apparent urge to report beyond that, hardly any context or background and rarely ever a non-American expert or commentator, that turned me off. And I'll forever associate its political stance with what they had on Crossfire back when the Gulf War was on - from the "left", some nameless meek liberal who would neatly fit in any of our centre-right parties, from the right ... Pat Buchanan.
There, finally. I filed my own answer to my thread after all.