June 4, 2010

Are you new to the news?

I am always a little shocked when someone tells me they do not read or pay attention to the news.  The other night, my friend Rita told me that she can go through long periods of not reading the news.  I was shocked to hear this.  However,  it is not the first time I have heard someone stating they do not follow the news.

I already lean towards the Cynical and Pessimistic.  Oh sure, my glass might be half full, but the government will surely swipe what is left.    I see that reading the news and related commentary merely serves to feed those negative inclinations that dwell deep inside my frosty heart.  I know this, folks.   However, I still want to be aware of what is going on and I feel it is more dangerous to not know. 

I want to know what is happening with the BP spill.  Even though I live in Kansas, this affects me, if not for the petty reason that my Costco shrimp may increase in price, then for the mere fact that I care about my fellow citizens and our wildlife on the Gulf Coast.  I fear that the situation in North and South Korea  is going to work its way it to the front page soon and that we will find ourselves mired in yet a third, concurrent war (did you know that the military is planning for a deployment to the Yellow Sea? Read the fine print in that article.)  Yesterday,  I dug around and found a stunning entire section on our fallen soldiers - a site that is continuously updated and not just for Memorial Day.  And in inconsequential, non-earth shattering type of current events, I do want to know what is going to happen with the Big 12 - it affects the Jayhawks, so it is important to me.

I will concede that maybe, just maybe, keeping up on current events is why I am such a crabby, bitter soul.  Perhaps.  But still!  I want to know that all of these things are happening. I cannot resist.

Every day, I scan a local Kansas City site, CNN.com, Google Reader and Twitter.  Yes, Google Reader and The Tweetle - I often find some of the more interesting pieces of what is happening in our world through links others share via Tweets and shared items on Google Reader (enthusiastic hat tip to Leah and Mishri!  You two share the best stuff!)  I am constantly reading and re-evaluating my positions.  My political views were pretty different 10 years ago, I credit reading about current events for this change.  Maybe my views are right, maybe they are wrong.  But I know that they may very well change because I will never stop learning about my world as it also continues to change.

Do you read the news?  Do you watch the news?  Am I wasting my time by reading the news?  Would my mental health improve if I just stopped listening to The Voices? Are ostriches really that much more happy and peaceful?  Or is the ostrich going to get his ass handed to him for not paying attention?

14 comments:

Christine said...

I read the news in the form of our daily paper and online sources. I don't watch the news, because 1. we don't have cable and 2. our local news stations are insane. They like to do a lot of fear-based stories, like a recent one on FLASH FLOODS AND HOW THEY WILL KILL YOU. Nice. We live in a desert. We live in the desert that's been in a drought for years. Do the canyons occasionally get flooded? Sure. Is water wiping out entire communities? Notsomuch.

Whether you're happier not reading the news...I don't know. I think it might depend on one's personality, but it would drive me insane to have not know what's going on. But I do try to avoid online comments, because those can really upset me.

Anjali said...

I read The New Yorker and The Atlantic, browse cnn.com for about 5 minutes a day, and read one blog in particular on my google reader for newsworthy stuff. That's it, though. It's not so much that I don't think that the news is important -- it's that I don't trust most news sources for accurate information. Thus, I severely limit my exposure to sensationalist, opinionated stories by staying away from most news sources as much as possible.

Cagey (Kelli Oliver George) said...

Christine,
I do not watch the local news. Period. Unless there is a tornado WARNING (not watch), I just do not tune in for the very reasons you mentioned. Bleh. I am okay with reading the local news because at least I can pick and choose the stories.

Anjali,
I view all my news sources with skepticism. I try to mix it up, but admit I do not read very much from the conservative angle save for the few times I watch Bill O'Reilly while at the gym. :-)

Average Jane said...

I get all my news from Twitter and blogs these days. They tend to filter out the things that are really important without all the nonsense that TV news interjects.

Cagey (Kelli Oliver George) said...

Average Jane,
Yes, I rarely watch the news on TV - something huge and breaking has to be happening. Generally, we use the "news" on TV for sheer entertainment value - Rachel Maddow, Bill Maher, O'Reilly and Daily Show are some favorites. The more acerbic, the better!

Melanie said...

I like to keep up on what is going on, but I have to force myself to move away from the news when the "big stuff" is happening, when 9-11 hit, I was glued to my tv WAY TOO MUCH, and what it ended up causing was a huge flare-up in my already anxiety prone mind.... not that I was scared for myself, but I was scared for EVERYONE... and when I started getting the physical side affects of anxiety I knew it was too much, I could not continue to dwell on it... I guess I am just too weak to deal with the big stuff...

I do follow my local news online, but not on tv..... mostly because its a convenience thing.... I follow lots of cable and network newspeople on twitter so I feel like I stay in the know... however when I feel myself starting to get too absorbed in it.... I just refuse to click through for awhile....

Olivia said...

NPR is always on in my car, and I listen to it as I'm getting ready in the morning, so about 2 hrs/day with them. A couple of blogs I read often alert me to more news, and my husband keeps the tv on CNN a lot so I get more news there. When I get home from work our dialogue if often, him, "Did you hear about such and such?" Me, "Yeah, I heard it on NPR." :)

It's also funny that The Daily Show often "covers" things I didn't hear about thru all of the above.

I rarely pay attention to local news, though.

Rayne of Terror said...

I try to listen to All Things Considered or Morning Edition most days. I see news on twitter and I skim 4 central Illinois papers and 2 Chicago papers online. My favorite thing is that most local newspaper reporters are on twitter now and interacting with them is fun and informative. And sometimes you get to break the news TO them. I read Slate and Salon every week and subscribe to some national and state political blogs.

But even with all that I am woefully underinformed compared to my old self. It's too easy to skim with 2 boys pulling at me every other minute and miss a lot of news.

Lately all I can do is shake my head. I told Bob the other day that this must be what people felt like in the late 60s early 70s, like our country is going to hell and there's nothing you can do to stop it. You know my ninth wedding anniversary is Labor Day weekend and our country has been at war all but 1 month of my marriage. The photos from the Gulf, the celebrity obsession, the lack of safety with motherfucking FOOD and medicine.

Mishri said...

Thanks for the shoutout! I love reading your shared items too. As for me, I must cop to being a total news junkie. I read Huff Post (because I'm a sensationalist like that), Slate, TNR, Newsweek, Time and a few blogs like the Daily Dish, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Joe Klein's posts on Swampland and TPM. I rarely watch cable news-- I find it too screechy for my taste, and local news=boring and stupid. One regret I have is that I just don't read enough international news.. probably because I'm lazy. I need to get back to reading the Economist.

Monkey McWearingChaps said...

When I commuted, I listened to NPR and the BBC Morning news everyday and kept up with Wall Street Journal meticulously throughout interviewing season.

Now I mostly keep up with the Wall Street Journal/business news...but since I don't commute anymore, NPR & BBC (who gave me most of my non-biz news) have fallen by the wayside. I generally look at MSNBC and CNN in the morning but they aren't great sources of info, frankly.

And I'm afraid that my interest in periodicals is limited to National Geographic, Atlantic Monthly and Psychology Today...which give me lots of interesting tidbits, features and articles...but doesn't really give me an overview of what's going on in the world day to day. I know a crapload about the Uighyer controversy in China though :P

Erin said...

I tend to be an ostrich. I browse through Yahoo's little feature thingy roughly once a day and read whatever catches my eye. That tends to be celebrity gossip and eat-this/not-that type stuff.

Am I happier as an ostrich? Yeah, probably. I hate all the doom and gloom that happens with news broadcasts and it brings me down. So I tend to avoid it.

But, on the other hand, I miss out on stuff that I should probably have a better handle on. Like, the BP oil spill and why the hell bloggers hate Carnation/Nestle so much (seriously - can someone help clue me in? please?) and what political candidate I should back in the next election.

I can't seem to force myself to have enough interest in these current events to figure out the backstories and stay abreast of everything. So I don't.

Erin said...

I had another thought about news and broadcast news watching that I forgot to mention.

And that is that I would prefer my kids not be exposed to some of the broadcast news content, particularly of the violent or more overtly sexual stuff that happens. Which means I need to watch the news when they are in bed. In New York, that means 11 pm and that's after my bedtime. Because I am old and lame. :}

And yes, I could check out CNN or other sites like that, but ... well, see above comments.

CPA Mom said...

oddly enough, I get most of my news these days from Twitter and FB (I follow local and national news outlets on both) as I have no time to watch the boob-tube.

I read the paper every day even though the news if often outdated by the time it's published. But you'll pry my daily paper from my cold dead hands.

The Vamp Tramp said...

I'm one of those who can go days without reading or watching the news. I find someone will always fill me in on current events. Whether I want them to or not.