Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
July 11, 2020

The best ways to keep up with politics as a student

By ALEX WALINSKAS | April 25, 2019


As a busy Hopkins student, I’m guilty of joining my peers in a familiar refrain: “I wish I had more time to read the news!” Throughout high school, my family always had cable television news or the news radio station as a backdrop to our daily lives. Without this passive flow of information in my college routine, I’ve had to adjust how I consume my news in order to stay up to date with the latest political happenings.

After procrastinating my actual homework for many hours I created a curated guide to political news to share. In addition to quick fixes and easily digestible political content, I’ve found some great resources for when I’m feeling wonkish and want to more thoroughly understand policy. I’ve included as many free resources as possible — we love learning on a budget!


If I only have time to scan the news once a day, POLITICO Playbook will be it. Essentially a political Gossip Girl, this free daily briefing will make you feel like a D.C. insider. I’ve found Playbook incredibly useful for interpreting the important points from the day’s headlines. Alongside original commentary by its authors, it features links to a curated selection of that day’s news — perfect for when I actually have the time to read more in-depth. The “sightings” section is always fun too, especially when living in Washington.

RealClearPolitics & RealClearPolicy

These RealClear sister-sites highlight a group of articles from across the web each day. I try to diversify my news sources as much as possible, and the RealClear picks are a great way to find new outlets and authors. I usually skim the headlines and pick out ones related to the topics I’m most interested in, but it can be fun to read a super wonky article about a policy field you know nothing about. Aggregate news sites are also great when you can’t afford news sites that charge subscriptions and want to bounce around to avoid the dreaded monthly article limit.


I love podcasts for their ability to turn mundane tasks into an opportunity to learn. When I have morning commutes, I like to listen to the New York Times’ Daily podcast. I also enjoy “The Ezra Klein Show,” which you can listen to on Spotify — there’s a great interview on there right now with presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg. I’ve also heard good things about the FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast.


My Twitter feed is half memes, half policy. In addition to providing great entertainment value, I’ve found Twitter to be a way to get more candid perspectives from policy experts. I started out by following various think tank scholars and opinion columnists, and from there I’ve found more people to follow on Policy Twitter by seeing who people mention or get into Twitter arguments with. It can also be super useful in the midst of big-deal political events — journalists sometimes live tweet first details before the headlines hit.

Baltimore City Voters

Fostering both community and knowledge, this Facebook group keeps me in the loop of Baltimore politics. This group (open to all Baltimore residents, including Hopkins students!) is led by some dedicated Baltimorean politicos who post a constant stream of relevant news articles and updates.

Local Journalism

Given that we live in closest proximity to our local politics, I think it’s incredibly powerful to stay informed about what’s going on in our city and state. There’s a lot of Baltimore-based journalism: The Baltimore Sun, Baltimore Brew (free!) and of course, our very own News-Letter. As a Maryland resident, I also like to read The Washington Post’s local news section for a broader scope of stories across the state.

After my reading is done, I also love to share news in the most traditional way possible — word of mouth! One of the many things I love about Hopkins is the ability to embark in thoughtful conversations with my peers about current events and what’s going on around us.

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