Alternative sites infuse news with color and laughs

Just hearing someone mention the nightly news is enough to make me yawn and to force my eyes to glaze over. It’s not that there’s anything terribly wrong with it. It’s informative, educational and, on rare occasions, even amusing. Who could forget CNN’s report on the new Lingerie Barbie, featuring the blonde icon at bars and adult bookstores in downtown N.Y. City.

But let’s face it. Watching the news can be really boring. I know I’d much rather watch an hour of “Friends” then see another primped and polished newscaster talk about the West Nile virus.

And who can make sense of the gibberish about the pending war with Iraq? Every station tells us the same things and yet none of them make it any easier to understand.

So where can a college student see some news that is both interesting and easy to understand? Not many of us get a newspaper, so the obvious answer is that great time killer: the Internet.

It’s not an easy task to weed through all the sites out there, but here are some of my favorites.

foreign policy

I know that when newscasters start talking about foreign policy, my brain zones out. It doesn’t make sense to me. Who wants to bomb whom and why, who supports the bombing, who wants peace? It’s hard to tell, especially since it seems like every few minutes, people are changing their minds.

This site presents a clear picture about what’s going on in the world. It also does something you won’t often find your local network doing – it questions American policy. It has dozens of articles that look critically at post-Sept. 11 America, the Bush administration and Iraq.

You’ll also find information on what’s going on in other parts of the world.

After all, America and Iraq aren’t the only two countries on the planet. The site gives updates on issues that have been pushed to the sidelines lately, as well as links to different newspapers around the globe.

An alternative look at capitalism

This site’s main focus is, of course, ads. It takes a crack at everything from Ronald McDonald to “American Idol,” calling it an “hour-long product pitch weakly disguised as entertainment.”

But the site does more than just bash companies and their products. It also provides some little-known facts about how far companies are willing to go to promote themselves.

Case in point – Pepsi is planning on spending $25 million for a program that will have people competing for a chance to go to space.

You can also find parodies of well-known ads by companies like Calvin Klein and Nike.

My personal favorite – information on how to play “Gap Tag.” The game has several variations, but the main point is to avoid the sales people and convince other shoppers not to buy into commercialism. Guaranteed to liven up any shopping trip.

“America’s Finest News Source”

parody site

This is a great place to find social commentary that doesn’t make you feel like you’re reading some expert’s opinion on the state of American culture. “The Onion” invented news and lampoon is just plain funny. No one is safe from the stinging wit of “The Onion,” not even Saddam Hussein.

Where else can you find an article comparing Iraq to Kentucky? You can also find reviews, short “news briefs” on topics like bacon and sex and longer articles on just about everything.

Don’t be surprised to find that the Yankees signed every player in the major leagues, or that shopping has become a part of the feminist movement. Just when you thought things couldn’t get weirder, you’ll find out that they can.

This site gives you links to a variety of news sources that cater to just about every taste.

Don’t feel guilty about changing the channel when you hear the Action News theme song, but don’t ignore the world either. Check out the news online and get a different approach. And feel free to laugh. Sometimes the news is funny.