Keeping up with current events

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Keeping up with current events

Post by UlyssesInvictus » Sat Sep 29, 2012 1:09 pm

So now that I no longer have the inimitable James Bradbury on my team, I'm starting to work on becoming a decent current events player, with the goal of aiming at being better at NAQT questions (I've completely forsaken geo; when you still get lost on the roads in your hometown, you know it's not for you).

I have a digital subscription to the NYT, so that's a starting point, and my friends know I'm an addicted redditor, though I admit that last one is a pretty shady place to get current events. I also capably watch TV news every so often, either local or stuff like CNN. Are there other news sources I should regularly check, like unknown blogs, twitter feeds, etc.? Study strategies would also be pretty helpful.

Any advice is greatly appreciated.
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Re: Keeping up with current events

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Sat Sep 29, 2012 1:34 pm

http://news.google.com

Google will link you to a wide variety of news stories from a wide variety of sources. All of the major headlines will be covered, but so will other events. It's much more efficient than reading individual news sources.

Last time we had this thread, The Economist was widely lauded as a good magazine to pick up international news likely to come up at NAQT. But overall I think that people who read individual news sources, rather than news amalgamators, are a bit like people who own record players.
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Re: Keeping up with current events

Post by David Riley » Sat Sep 29, 2012 4:01 pm

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Re: Keeping up with current events

Post by The Kid Who Collects Spider-Man » Sat Sep 29, 2012 6:57 pm

I disagree with Bruce regarding the proposition that reading amalgamators is more efficient than reading individual news sources. The best reporting is typically done by sources that cost $$ (like the FT, NYT, and WSJ), which are not accessible through amalgamators, and good newspapers give you a structured reading experience that is lacking in amalgamators. Of course, the big advantage of amalgamators is that they are free, but they leave you with facile reporting and little sense of which stories you should read in the limited time you have.

The best single source for political, economic, and business news is the Financial Times. Unfortunately, a subscription to the Financial Times is very expensive, so I would only get one if you plan on reading it almost every day. On the upside, though, you get access to all of Martin Wolf's op-ed pieces.
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Re: Keeping up with current events

Post by The Stately Rhododendron » Sat Sep 29, 2012 11:03 pm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Local_elec ... endar_2012 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_e ... endar_2012

just reading the articles on each lead me (and my bro) to first line all the non-us ce tossups at HSNCT

for us based ce tossups, i read http://elections.dailykos.com/
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Re: Keeping up with current events

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Sun Sep 30, 2012 12:24 am

The Kid Who Collects Spider-Man wrote:I disagree with Bruce regarding the proposition that reading amalgamators is more efficient than reading individual news sources. The best reporting is typically done by sources that cost $$ (like the FT, NYT, and WSJ), which are not accessible through amalgamators, and good newspapers give you a structured reading experience that is lacking in amalgamators. Of course, the big advantage of amalgamators is that they are free, but they leave you with facile reporting and little sense of which stories you should read in the limited time you have.
I dispute this. Google news seems to be able to pierce through paywalls and give me long, detailed articles from places like the New York Times and the WSJ.
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Re: Keeping up with current events

Post by jekbradbury » Sun Sep 30, 2012 1:30 am

Read m.politico.com/playbook.cfm every morning and you will know all of the (US political) news. But I've already told you that.
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Re: Keeping up with current events

Post by Lightinfa » Wed Oct 03, 2012 11:59 pm

In my experience most NAQT CE questions seem to be written straight from the Economist- so I'd suggest reading every issue of that cover to cover. Even if they aren't written from it- that magazine provides a worldwide rather comprehensive perspective. When I was at my best at Current Events I was reading the Economist cover to cover, reading RealClearPolitics every day, and checking the Daily Telegraph website every day.
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Re: Keeping up with current events

Post by Kyle » Thu Oct 04, 2012 11:05 am

Lightinfa wrote:In my experience most NAQT CE questions seem to be written straight from the Economist- so I'd suggest reading every issue of that cover to cover. Even if they aren't written from it- that magazine provides a worldwide rather comprehensive perspective. When I was at my best at Current Events I was reading the Economist cover to cover, reading RealClearPolitics every day, and checking the Daily Telegraph website every day.
I absolutely think that the Economist is the best source for studying world current events. I have also criticized NAQT for writing too many current events questions straight out of the Economist, particularly in the aftermath of the 2010 ICT, when my teammate claimed to have powered four tossups in the first seven rounds based solely on having read that week's issue on the plane. And I have also written current events questions for NAQT based on things I have read in the Economist.

With that said, I think it is not accurate to say that "most" NAQT current events questions come straight out of the Economist. The reality is that NAQT questions are written by a variety of different people who write with different styles and different sources, so you get a hodgepodge of different things. When the current events is the last category to get filled right before a tournament, which is the case more often than it should be, there are times when you get a really biased selection of things straight out of that week's news. In the best NAQT sets, however, this is not the case at all, and you get a much richer and more meaningful mix of questions.

In my opinion, one conceptual problem is that people tend to emphasize the idea of current "events" as discrete events that have happened very recently. When people write about particular events -- rather than broader trends about a particular place, person, idea, or theme -- that is when you get questions that are written based on a single source, whether from the Economist or otherwise. I have tried very hard to avoid this kind of question while editing current events for the NSC over the past two years. I do hope that NAQT will make more of an effort to do this as well in the future.
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Re: Keeping up with current events

Post by The Toad to Wigan Pier » Thu Oct 04, 2012 11:38 am

While it is true that non-Economist sources make it into NAQT current events from time to time, the reliance on the Economist is absurd. For example:
IS-116 wrote: 13. In February 2012 The Economist announced that it was removing the official version of a financial indicator from
its weekly reports. For 10 points each—
A. That decision was taken because of meddling by this country's president in the reports of its INDEC office.
answer: Argentina (or Argentine Republic or República Argentina)
The only way you could get that bonus part (a high school bonus part!) is if you read the Economist or you happen to have memorized the abbreviations of individual Latin American national statistic bureaus. I suppose you could make the argument that Argentina's false inflation numbers are well known (to readers of the Economist), but that applies to a lot of countries so any non-Economist informed answer would essentially be a guess.
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Re: Keeping up with current events

Post by Kyle » Thu Oct 04, 2012 1:09 pm

This question wouldn't have been so bad if the order had been inflation / Argentina / Kirchner rather than Argentina / inflation / Kirchner. As it is written, yes, it doesn't make any sense.

This question also illustrates what I complained about above, which is that it's based on a single article. I'm less concerned by the fact that that article was from the Economist.
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Re: Keeping up with current events

Post by The Toad to Wigan Pier » Thu Oct 04, 2012 2:15 pm

Kyle wrote:This question also illustrates what I complained about above, which is that it's based on a single article. I'm less concerned by the fact that that article was from the Economist.
I concur that single article questions are a bigger and more overarching problem for quizbowl in general, but my point is it's true that the Economist is vastly over-represented in such questions in NAQT sets when compared to other sources. I can't think off of the top of my head any other prominent question provider/clue source pairing that has reached such problematic heights. The bonus part I posted is indistinguishable from parody.
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Re: Keeping up with current events

Post by Deviant Insider » Thu Oct 04, 2012 5:14 pm

I wrote 22 Current Events questions used in last year's HSNCT without referring to The Economist. I'm just saying.

Current Events is like a lot of things--if you are interested in it, you will do well in it. Though the canon works a little bit differently because answers move in and out of the current events canon more often than they do for canons in other topics, almost all of the answers are topics that either have come up several times before or have been huge recent news topics. When you look through most news sources, you have to do the same thing you do when you look through lists of Nobel Prize winners or lists of high school classics--think about what is important and what isn't, and trust that decent question providers will ask about the important things. Think about which stories are in the headlines for more than a day or two. Pick news sources that cater to educated people, unless you enjoy reading about Honey Boo Boo and Ryan Seacrest.

Here are some questions you should be able to answer:
What has Congress been doing this year?
Which cabinet members have been newsworthy in the past year and why?
What has the Supreme Court done in the past year that received news coverage?
Which governors have made the national news?
Which countries have been in the news more than normal in the past year or two?
For the most powerful and/or populous countries in the world, why have they been in the news recently, and who is in power?
Since it's an election year, which elections have been national news?
If you were a Liberal, what would you think is a major story now? If you were a Conservative, what would you think is a major story now?
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Re: Keeping up with current events

Post by Panayot Hitov » Sat Oct 06, 2012 7:02 pm

The Kid Who Collects Spider-Man wrote: The best single source for political, economic, and business news is the Financial Times. Unfortunately, a subscription to the Financial Times is very expensive, so I would only get one if you plan on reading it almost every day. On the upside, though, you get access to all of Martin Wolf's op-ed pieces.
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Re: Keeping up with current events

Post by roey » Sun Oct 07, 2012 5:38 pm

All of the sources mentioned are great for current events. The Economist in particular provides a huge amount of info about global current events. If you want to subscribe to newspapers like the NY Times, Financial Times, and Wall St. Journal, go ahead, but there are many individual sources which provide similar quality news for free. I would recommend spending a few minutes a day looking at the websites of major US news bureaus (AP, CNN, NBC News) and international news sources like BBC News, the Telegraph, and the Guardian, the latter of which I enjoy using since it is a great source for international news and has virtually no paywall.
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Re: Keeping up with current events

Post by Sniper, No Sniping! » Sun Oct 07, 2012 7:26 pm

The Economist is a good read and prepares you well for world current events, especially for HSNCT.

I have found that you don't have to be a constant viewer of news shows or an avid reader to be good at current events. Speaking from my experience, if you have Facebook and you "like" a news page, read the updates that show up in your news feed. Also, engage yourself in some discussions with your intelligent friends about what's going on in the world and what your views are on that subject.

Last but not least, and yes, some may say this isn't how you should learn current events unless you want NAQT points, this.

Edit: An additional thought: when you notice a world issue (or a U.S. issue), and you think it might be popular enough that'll come up, think of what context it will be tossed up as. Example; the rule of Alexander Lukashenko over Belarus and how it is "the last remaining dictatorship in Europe". When I first recognized this, it was before it had come up as a bonus in an NAQT (I think?) set. I looked at this issue and thought "maybe it'll be a bonus unless its a tossup on Belarus", and I believe a bonus on him went Belarus/Minsk/Lukashenko. On a somewhat related note, I think European and American CE likely comes up more than other CE, but that's a personal thought with no evidence to prove nor deny it.

I'd also think about female leaders of countries that are in the news and why they may be in the news. Kirchener was already mentioned, Merkel ("the most powerful woman in the world"), Aung San Syu Kyi (there's likely already questions written on her for this year) and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (first female head of state in Africa/co-winner of the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize. One would think there could be a bonus on Liberia that'll mention her and/or Charles Taylor).
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Re: Keeping up with current events

Post by Brian Ulrich » Wed Dec 26, 2012 5:56 pm

Kyle wrote: In my opinion, one conceptual problem is that people tend to emphasize the idea of current "events" as discrete events that have happened very recently. When people write about particular events -- rather than broader trends about a particular place, person, idea, or theme -- that is when you get questions that are written based on a single source, whether from the Economist or otherwise. I have tried very hard to avoid this kind of question while editing current events for the NSC over the past two years. I do hope that NAQT will make more of an effort to do this as well in the future.
As NAQT's hs CE editor, I strongly second this. Any writers reading this should try not to ground whole questions in single events, such as isolated bombings in the Syrian conflict.

Also, on the Economist/Argentina question referenced above, I didn't see the Economist angle as significant to the question, since the key was knowing what Latin American nation was fudging their data.
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Re: Keeping up with current events

Post by Sniper, No Sniping! » Sat Nov 30, 2013 12:23 pm

I have started to listen to BBC's World Service (notably "The Fifth Floor" program) and BBC World News in the car. Even if it doesn't necessarily serve as much help for "current events", it's still a good listen (and who knows, what's happening from now and until probably early March(?) could very well come up in Chicago).
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Re: Keeping up with current events

Post by The Stately Rhododendron » Sat Nov 30, 2013 5:59 pm

Mr. Scogan wrote:I have started to listen to BBC's World Service (notably "The Fifth Floor" program) and BBC World News in the car. Even if it doesn't necessarily serve as much help for "current events", it's still a good listen (and who knows, what's happening from now and until probably early March(?) could very well come up in Chicago).

I think you can't go wrong with http://www.welections.wordpress.com. It's very detailed.
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