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.