This article updates ideas on how to enhance your “news efficiency” — just as you enhance your production efficiency. It adds new, reliable sources to those I suggested on this website January 16, 2020. That analysis was pre-pandemic. And also before the recent aggressive censorship by dominant social-media platforms such as FaceBook, Twitter and YouTube.
December 25, 2020 By Jerry Carlson — I’ve served as a professional journalist since 1959. I earned a master’s degree in ag journalism at Iowa State. Served as an Air Force public information officer on a base in Morocco. Became Managing Editor at Farm Journal. Then in 1972, I partnered in starting Professional Farmers of America.
In our earliest Pro Farmer seminars, veteran ag market analyst Jim Gill of Illinois urgently advised farmers to watch for global “megatrends” — the powerful geopolitical forces which dominate your farm technologies and market prices. His most-recommended source for the big economic picture: the Wall Street Journal. He especially pointed to the WSJ editorial department, shaped by Robert Bartley, a colleague of mine at Iowa State in the 1950s.
When the internet dawned as a vital news and information source for farmers in the late 1990s, I urged Professional Farmers of America to launch online news. We launched the first Pro Farmer website. I was enthused that mega-media corporations and big advertisers no longer controlled information flow. I did not anticipate that just 20 years later, six media giants and three social-network oligarchs would have the power to step on your oxygen hose and censor the flow of unbiased facts you need.
The positive news is that powerhouses such as Google, which controls 90% of internet search activity as well as YouTube content censorship, can’t stop independent, new media outlets from popping up. And these newbies are chipping into screen time of controlled-narrative “mainstream” networks such as such as CNN, ABC, NBC, MSNBC and CBS. The censors to want their narrative instead of hard facts have to play losing games of whack-a-mole.
Here are some insightful news sources which I check almost daily to gain greater perspective for long-term planning and peace of mind). Some of the general news sites encourage signups for e-mailed news alerts on your computer and smartphone. The soundest news streams require paid subscriptions, which is worth it to avoid the ad clutter.
1. The Wall Street Journal (https://www.wsj.com) is a subscription site. Unfortunately, the news pages have drifted into a slanted view hard to distinguish from the New York Times. Many of WSJ’s reporters and editors have emerged from the same universities as the Times staff. So far, the WSJ opinion pages remain in the domain of experienced, dedicated adults. I look for James Freeman, William A. Galston, Daniel Henninger, Holman W. Jenkins, William McGurn, and my favorite, Kimberley A. Strassel.
The most solid WSJ news coverage is on nonpolitical business trends, including agricultural production and export trade. Search the online WSJ site for the byline of Jacob Bunge. Link to some of Bunge’s articles here.
2. Pro Farmer online (https://www.profarmer.com) This website has steadily improved since I pieced together the first primitive version using Dreamweaver decades ago. I especially recommend clicking through to Washington analyst Jim Wiesemeyer for up-to-date reports on legislation and trade negotiations. Since Pro Farmer became conjoined with Farm Journal, the owners have added a wide array of outlets including TV programs.
3. To the Point News (https://www.tothepointnews.com) every Friday carries a revealing-to-read analysis of news and economic trends by my favorite adventurer and commentator, Jack Wheeler. On weekdays, a wide array of columnists and economic analysts offer perceptive looks ahead at world events. Jack calls this site an “oasis for rational conservatives.” It offers news and analysis available nowhere else. It’s $95 per year.
4. The Epoch Times (https://www.theepochtimes.com) is an online news service for $77 per year, or a weekly full-size newspaper for $159 annually. It claims to be “America’s fastest-growing newspaper.” Its U.S. editor-in-chief says, “We continue our commitment to promoting and upholding traditional values, in an effort to revive what’s good, and especially to help educate our younger generations about these timeless values.” It’s circulated in some 20 nations. Media competitors mock the publication as laced with capital from China. However, its Chinese backers are apparently expatriates with a fierce determination to expose China’s long-term goal of imposing communist hegemony around the world. The paper is censored in China. This past summer I found that The Epoch Times dug out the most comprehensive reporting on China’s floods and their impact on major crop areas. I relayed those facts on our site, signaling that China’s crop losses could ignite a surge of wheat, corn and soybean sales to China. How’d that work out?
5. Debka File (https://www.debka.com) is an Israel-based news and analysis service focusing on Mideast geopolitical events, which impact U.S. national attention and military involvement. I usually monitor the day-by-day reports, but you can also subscribe to a more in-depth weekly analysis. The staff is closely connected to Israeli and other Mideast intelligence sources. Debka is one of the best sources for Mideast information, such as on the dramatic new relationships opening between Israel and Islamic neighbors across the Mideast and Africa. This is a huge geopolitical event with far-reaching consequences.
6. Israeli columnist Caroline Glick (http://carolineglick.com) She’s the most insightful commentator I’ve found on Mideast geopolitics. Her weekly analysis helps understand the entire region and its shifting-sands political forces. Caroline’s analysis is also featured in JNS, another Israel-based news source which covers a wide variety of Mideast developments — often before U.S. mainline media outlets express an interest. When I lived in Morocco for a year, I learned that the “Arab Telegraph” of viral news was almost as fast as today’s internet. Caroline is wired into it.
7. South China Morning Post (https://www.scmp.com). A Chinese source? Yes. Before China’s political takeover of Hong Kong, SCMP’s website posted remarkably objective news covering Chinese and Southeast Asian economics and politics. The publishers, based in Hong Kong, have had to become more nuanced since China abrogated Hong Kong’s legal independence. Even so, the website offers fairly balanced coverage of U.S./China trade negotiations — from the Chinese viewpoint.
I list the websites above primarily for economic news and analysis, not for reportage on cultural and political conflict. However, just as a nation’s policy are downstream from its culture, a nation’s economic vitality is downstream from its political policy. This is why I’m offering you a link to a list of news and opinion websites compiled by “Conservapedia, the trustworthy encyclopedia.” It ranks websites according to American and global internet visit frequency. If you favor a progressive agenda, you may wish to visit any other news sources than these. The actual link you can copy and paste in your browser: