Talk Radio vs Usenet
My favorite solution is Usenet, a part of the Internet that predates the web, although nowadays many people use the web to access it. To the user, it looks like an enormous collection of bulletin boards; my ISP currently supports more than a hundred thousand of them. Each Usenet newsgroup is a conversation on a topic, with topics ranging from writing speculative fiction to obscure computer languages to obsolete video games to political ideologies. The conversation takes the form of a series of posts organized into threads, viewable, if you have a decent newsreader—many are available for free—in ways that show who is answering whom on what. It is a form of communication much superior to realtime instant messaging, especially when the conversation involves more than two people.
A newgroup is a conversation, but also a community—a group of people who routinely interact online. Not all of the talk is about the group's topic. Once you know people, it's natural enough to get into talking about their lives, arguing politics, discussing the world. Such off topic threads can distract from whatever the newsgroup is supposed to be about, but they are also one of the attractions of Usenet. It is more interesting and more informative to discuss national politics, or differences among different countries, or how to bring up children, with people you know and respect for what they have to say about the group's topic, than it is to have similar conversations with strangers.
Which brings me back to the question I started with—how to get information on political issues, and, in particular, how to get a clear idea of what the arguments are for both sides.
Currently, my best solution is a Usenet newsgroup whose nominal subject is science fiction fandom (rec.arts.sf.fandom). The group contains intelligent and well informed individuals with a variety of political views. I can be reasonably sure, when the conversation turns to the Florida election controversy (2000) or Israel vs the Palestinians, that there will be at least one competent supporter of each of the main sides in the controversy and at least one competent opponent. By reading their posts I can, easily and entertainingly, inform myself of the best case that can be made for each side.
In that newsgroup as elsewhere, there are also incompetent defenders of both sides, certain that their position has all truth, justice and virtue and oblivious to the other side's arguments—the sort of people political talk shows are intended for. Their posts can also be entertaining, although less informative. Once one has been part of the conversation for a while, it is pretty easy to figure out how to separate the wheat from the chaff.