Just some thoughts.
Reading and listening to real life news and current stories is crazy hard - crazy hard. It’s a great goal, and it is my goal, but realize it will take a lot of time.
With real news/stories you are dealing with lots of factors - speed of speech, sloppy speech with people interrupting each other, idioms, cultural references, a crazy amount of vocabulary, complex thoughts traversing sentences and paragraphs, etc.
I have been working at it for 7 years and it is just starting to click. Some native content I can understand almost as easily as English and some is like listening to Martian. I would also say there is a big difference between day-to-day conversational Russian and news/real life stories on the radio. For example, I can understand about 100% of what I hear my Russian wife say to her friends but listening to an indepth discussion of the Ukrainian crisis on the radio is a different matter entirely.
Even if you could read everything perfectly and understood all, you would still have a hard time listening to natives at first because words are no longer words in regular speech. They are blurred sounds and you need to be able to pick up the patterns without translating as they are too fast otherwise.
Same thing happens in English as I am trying to explain to my Russian wife who is having trouble with native content. For example, it is very easy for even a beginning English student to read the following:
“What are you doing today?”
“I am to the movie with David”
“What time you going to be home?”
But Americans say in a very blurred way:
They are not individual words but blurred sounds where you hear based on flow and emphasis. Same thing with Russian (and I assume many language).
My advice is too relax on the native content and go slowly or you will frustrate yourself - I did and was frustrated daily. There is so much great content on lingq in Russian! My one wish is that they would create a guide that would help students work through content more easily than just say “choose what is interesting to you”. That works when you know how to learn a foreign language but death when you do not. I found the levels assigned (beginner, intermediate, advanced) to be completely inaccurate for me.
My Recommended list of content for beginners to advanced IF the goal is towards conversational Russian (only a snippet. Just my highest recommended choices):
- Beginners: “Who is she” and “eating out”
- Intermediate: The entire 111 Русский Подкаст by Solena (I did all of these but 2, due to low sound quality, and loved them. I just like her voice I think).
- Intermediate: NCLRC-2009
- Intermediate+: ДЕНЬ ЗА ДНЁМ, РАЗГОВОРЫ С ЕВГЕНИЕМ (tons and tons of great stuff by evgueny)
- Intermediate+: VoA - Russian
- Advanced: RussianLingQ
- Advanced+: Эхо Москвы (if you really want to kill yourself) I found “ГОРОД ОТ УМА” series to be the easiest of the bunch though.
I tend to stay away from books and stories except for the joy reading. I read them but don’t spend too much time on listening because it is not conversational Russian.
I would say too that it is hard to learn too much vocab and listening together, at least it was for me. I would do this - "Ah! I am smart and motivated! I’ll just go straight to a RussianLingQ dialog. I would open it and I would know about 10% of the words. I learned the words and listened over and over and over. I got there with some of these dialogs but what a massive waste of time and with much suffering. Much more efficient when I learned to pick dialogs where I knew 80%+ words.
Good luck. Okay, back to suffering through a Эхо Москвы conversation that is super hard for me ))))