I find it amazing how much people are absorbed in “the news” and it’s political slant or bias. All of it is pretty much useless to innovators beyond basic awareness of current events. The news I’m referring to is information that is relayed to us by the mainstream media; the TV and radio networks, and newspapers. Web news, such as you might find on Google or Yahoo also is in this category of general news providers.
I’ve got no issue with someone who scans these outlets now and then to see what’s being reported, in fact, I think to be culturally literate, one must. But focusing on this stuff too much will clutter your brain with useless poop. News is set up to addict you to news, not really to provide you useful information. It might provide something useful, but that’s a byproduct of the real goal of the news outlets.
Looking at it this way, that news is about addiction, kind of lowers the importance of the political slant. In other words — it’s all crap — so who cares if it’s right crap, left crap, or pure fluff (as in the Holmes/Cruise divorce saga).
News, in a very real sense, isn’t new. It’s old. The very fact it’s being reported means it’s such an obvious phenomena, so in-your-face even the mainstream media can’t ignore it. So what is usually being reported, whatever the bias, in a political sense, is a peak or spike in a behaviour (or series of events). What gets reported is The Spike. The spike bias is way more important than the political or even moral bias of the news providers. Think about it…isn’t the real news, the kind that might be useful if you were developing products and services or social innovations, the slow building trends that lead up to the spikes. In my mind, the real new news are trends that aren’t reported, or are very rarely reported.
So, if you are an innovator seeking fresh information you need to look in ways other people don’t look.
Social media can give you some ideas, but again, so much of what you see in a Facebook stream is just a replaying of mainstream news, or, reactions to it. When you see people’s personal reporting you are seeing something beyond the news, keep an eye on that. Twitter has some fresh stuff too.
Ultimately though the best way to get in front of trends is to watch people, in different situations. A lot. Observational research and deep exploratory research, of your own, is where you learn things nobody else knows.
So start watching.