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Rupert Wolfe-Murray

I Finally Found a News Site Worth Reading

For years I have been searching for a news site that is worth reading, a site that has the right mix of intriguing titles, good design and unpredictable articles. Above all I want to follow journalists who aren't arrogant or cynical.

Long after I'd given up actually finding a news site worth staying loyal to, I found one: The New Statesman. This is an old British weekly that is considered left wing, a label that has kept me away as I don't believe in any mainstream political creeds. The problem with the left/right publications is that their opinions, and articles, are too predictable. You know what they are going to say about the British Government, for example, even before they have published it.

The Guardian is a vast empire of news, podcasts, videos and opinions and I think it has one of the best designs of any news site in the world. I really like it but their opinions become a bit boring – even though I do agree with many of them. You know the Guardian are going to publish news which makes the Conservative government look bad, whereas the Daily Mail will do the opposite.

What turned me onto the New Statesman was the fact that I spotted three articles that I highlighted for reading later. The first one was an extensive overview of India by William Dalrymple, a brilliant writer who brings India's history to life. The second one was a sexy looking review of the new film (of the old book I read as a kid): On the Road. The third article had an intriguing title about a BBC journalist who is “less of a journalist, more of a phenomenon.”

I don't remember when I last found even one article that I saved for reading later, let alone three. When I see an interesting title I can usually get the gist of the story from the subtitle or what journalists call “the lead” (the first sentence). This suggests that most news articles are very superficial; my preferred method of gathering news is to just ask people what's going on.

Unlike the tens of millions of loyal readers who hit on the BBC, Guardian, Daily Mail, Telegraph and Economist every day, I find no need to visit these sites unless someone on Twitter recommends a particular article.

For a while I was interested in the BBC and Time magazine websites as they have a lot of interesting material. But the problem with these sites is that they seem to be aimed at everyone and so each brilliant article is surrounded by tittle-tattle about showbiz, amazing facts, stories about animals and, most boring of all as far as I am concerned: sports.

Over the last year I have been following various journalists from the Guardian, the Telegraph and the Economist but one by one I have “unfollowed” them for showing me their arrogance or (in the case of the Telegraph bloggers) rigidly held views. Very few of them show any sign of humour and most of them post far too much stuff on Twitter.

My second language is Romanian and there are a lot of dynamic news sites in that language, the biggest one being www.hotnews.ro.

Romania is a fascinating country with a political scene reminiscent of the early Weimar Republic: a collapsing social and economic system and the gradual emergence of authoritarianism. But most news organisation in Romania are politically affiliated and you need tremendous energy to be able to monitor, analyse and compare the various news stories. Not one of the British newspapers have a correspondent in Bucharest (Budapest is a more sophisticated and comfortable location for journalists to live) and so the English speaking world is missing out on some fascinating political theatre.

One of the few British journalists that I still follow on Twitter and, shock horror, actually like is Helen Lewis, the deputy editor of the New Statesman. She comes across as witty, self depreciating and interesting. She re-tweets material that is genuinely worth reading, and this is unusual on Twitter where most people re-tweet garbage. But many months passed before I realised that she edits a magazine that is really worth reading.

* Rupert Wolfe Murray advises companies how to deal with addiction problems. He is the European Representative of Castle Craig Hospital, a leading British rehab clinic, and is based in Bucharest.

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