By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

With Israel and Hamas at war, here are some free reliable sources of quality news

Map (cc) 2023 via Wikimedia Commons

With Israel and Hamas now at war following Hamas’ terrorist attacks over the weekend, I’ve seen a number of laments that X/Twitter is no longer much good for breaking news and that its would-be replacements are not ready for prime time. I’ll get back to that in a moment. But it seems to me that this is the perfect moment to re-embrace quality news sources.

I’ve been following developments mainly at The New York Times, but there are reliable sources of free news as well. Here are a just a few:

Now, to get back to Twitter and its competitors: Despite Elon Musk’s having taken a wrecking ball to his plaything, if you have a good list of follows, then it remains intact. I constantly see complaints about trolls and haters popping up in people’s “For You” feed, which is controlled by algorithms, but all you need to do is switch to “Following” as soon as you log in. Twitter’s lists are still a worthwhile feature, too. Josh Marshall has put together a list of reliable accounts that is worth checking out.

These days I spend more time on Mastodon, Bluesky and Threads than I do Twitter. But though I suspect Threads, with Mark Zuckerberg’s billions behind it, will eventually emerge as the winner, it currently lacks lists and hashtags, which gives it limited value in following breaking news. Bluesky doesn’t have hashtags or real lists, either. Mastodon has lists and hashtags, but you can’t follow someone else’s lists, which means you have to start from scratch.

It seems to me that there have been two defining stories of the war so far. The first is The Wall Street Journal’s report (free link) that Iran was directly involved in planning and approving Hamas’ attack. As the Journal ominously puts it:

A direct Iranian role would take Tehran’s long-running conflict with Israel out of the shadows, raising the risk of broader conflict in the Middle East. Senior Israeli security officials have pledged to strike at Iran’s leadership if Tehran is found responsible for killing Israelis.

The second is Hamas’ horrifying attack on a music festival in southern Israel, where its fighters simply slaughtered concert-goers for no purpose except to inflict terror. The New York Times has put the number of dead Israelis at round 140. The Times of Israel has placed the death toll at closer to 250.

Readers of Media Nation know that this is an opinion blog, so let me state my allegiance here. As much as I detest the Netanyahu government, its slide into authoritarianism, and its utter refusal to seek peace with the Palestinians, I am solidly committed to Israel’s right to exist as an independent Jewish state. As President Biden said:

Terrorism is never justified. Israel has a right to defend itself and its people. The United States warns against any other party hostile to Israel seeking advantage in this situation.  My Administration’s support for Israel’s security is rock solid and unwavering.

The Palestinian people have a right to live in peace and dignity as well. Sadly, Hamas’ actions are likely to set back their own legitimate aspirations for a generation. Beyond that, I am at the limit of my expertise. This is a time for reading, watching and learning.

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  1. NahantJim Walsh

    Both the Times and the Globe have printed Roger Cohen’s excellent piece on the context of the unfolding story in Gaza. There will be a lot of “blame-screaming” on this but Cohen’s sincere, knowledgeable commentary has real value to all of us.

  2. Wes Slate

    As usual, you’ve put a deadly serious breaking news story in contest, and offered links to solid sources of good information and opinion. Well done, Professor. Your students, readers, and followers are all the better-informed for it.

  3. Thank you for the list. I’d also recommend Democracy Now, DW News (German public media) and Juan Cole’s blog, Informed Comment.

    fwiw I’n having good results training the X algorithm by letting it know when I don’t like the suggestions — and being generous liking and bookmarking content I want to see more of. That said, I’m all for your getting back to X/Twitter as a topic

  4. Mike Rosenberg

    I think Times of Israel is the most comprehensive, up-to-the-minute online resource.

    • dkennedy56

      Yes. The Times of Israel pops up a lot in Josh Marshall’s feed, which I recommended.

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