I hardly ever make much attempt to follow the news, or at least news from the mainstream sources. I don’t watch national or regional TV news shows. I don’t read national or international newspapers. I read my local paper maybe 2 or 3 times a week. I surf to news web sites a scan headlines maybe once or twice a month.
Does that make me out of touch? Am I being irresponsible with my civic duties? I don’t know, maybe. I don’t believe it does though. Being responsible also includes critical thought, counterpoint opinions, and actual action on your part. Eating a staple diet of headlines doesn’t do that and some will argue it prevents it, but I don’t want to go down that rat hole today. Suffice it to say that many major news outlets no longer do much real journalism anymore. The 5th estate is a watered down thing.
This morning I fired up one of my favorite aggregation tools Flipboard and looked through the News category. Grim. Below I have listed the story counts by subject and tone. I went until I started to see repeating subjects, in today’s case the zoo that killed the healthy young giraffe and fed it to the carnivores at the zoo. I ended up scanning through 37 articles.
Subject – count of stories
Immigration/xenophobia – 3
Nuke fear/drum beating – 5
Bad economy – 2
Terror attack – 5
State sanctioned violence – 4
Bad politicians – 2
Articles about anything in my country – 0
Today is also day 3 of the Sochi Olympics. The first Olympic story ran in 36th place. The first positive story ran in position 27. The total number of positive stories was 2 out of 37.
This list of stories is advertised as a hand curated list of the biggest stories in the world. Sorry, but medical marijuana in Alabama, a lack of action in the US Congress, and the scrapping of an old US aircraft carrier seriously can’t be the biggest stories in the world.
I like Flipboard, and will continue to use it. I guess I need to tweak the News feeds. Obviously their curators and I have a different opinion about what’s news. Besides, I would prefer to encourage positive change by celebrating the successes rather than more handwringing over the failures.
2 Replies to “I don’t follow mainstream news sources”
Yep, it’s pretty bad when reddit becomes our best source of news.
I often get told that I’m being selfish or uncaring when I say I don’t follow the news. I disagree with that. The mainstream media is a for-profit industry. Their goal is to reach as many people as possible to sell ad space. People see headlines that induce fear and helplessness and when people feel that way, they tend to buy things. For some strange reason, people also pat attention when they see fearful headlines. When I want to know what’s going on, I find a much more even toned source is a good political/specific subject blog. It’s easy to tell who is blogging for money and who is relaying information for the sake of sharing information. A good blog does both.
When I need news on a subject, I’ll seek it out. I don’t need mass media headlines shouting fearful things at me.
I also find reddit does a good job of weeding out the bullshit news and letting the good stuff rise to the top.