No news isn’t necessarily good news, but no news probably results in a better individual situation.
In the past couple months, I have spent more hours watching, reading, and listening to news than in the past two years combined. This recent news consumption has been about 40% social, 35% informational, and 25% diversionary. I am now more knowledgeable about the Iraq crisis, the Mexican border situation, Hillary Clinton’s non-campaign campaign, the 427th successive Israeli-Palestinian showdown, the concerns in Russia and Ukraine, the overblown Hobby Lobby/ACA deal, and even the never-say-die Benghazi issues than I would have been. I am not so sure that any of this knowledge makes a difference, other than to make me more opinionated, hopeless and/or fearful, and possibly argumentative. Basically, I’m pretty sure that I’m no better a person for having done this news thing.
If a reader were to have any interest in more detail — my musings on particular news outlets — s/he could see the long footnote¹ below. I wanted to subordinate it to the main (shorter) text, here above the double-dotted line.
My strong suspicion continues to be that, no matter what one does or doesn’t do with regard to news is of no real consequence. “Being informed” about current events, although I don’t mind it in principle, isn’t that big a deal to me. No level of news intake will change the outcome of any of the stories, and it certainly won’t change the outcome of eternity.
However, I might just mention this. . . .
A man from my past, John Gaynor, had a gift with making announcements and offering a “call to worship,” often from the Psalms, as the assembly began. He was upbeat in tone, and he seemed to be informed with the latest news of the world — earthquakes, wars, coups in governments. Although I doubt I’ll ever be as informed as my memory says John was, I think he was doing a good thing: bringing a significant news item to the gathered church every week or two, and praying to the Lord of All about that event.
¹ Newsings (Musings? Noose-ings?)
I’ve heard Rachel Maddow and Chris what’s-his-name, and I’ve heard Rush and Sean. One of these sounds like a cartoon character to me, two are fairly reasonable sounding, and the other appears about as ridiculous on the screen as a U.S. lawmaker who famously grinned while saying they should just pass the Affordable Care Act and then figure out what’s contained in it. A couple of these ‘casters are far more on target than the other two, in my estimation, but they all have such obvious agendas that it’s hard to take them seriously.
FNC is anything but balanced, and one of its commentators seems more obnoxious each time I see him. But FNC is far more often sensical, on target, fair, and mature (although often no more pleasant) than what I’ve seen from MSNBC.
The portions of national evening news broadcasts that I’ve seen recently seemed reasonably unbiased, but wait till some Republican or Tea Party person filibusters, or wait till some sincere soul protests gay rights or abortion. Then the leftist hues will become visible, guaranteed.
A couple of days ago, I deleted the CNN app from my smartphone. (Now my phone s a little dumber, I suppose. Or maybe not.) I looked for a better news app. I’d once tried the Washington Post and the Fox News apps. Both disappointed me in terms of functionality. The Huffington Post immediately convinced me of its bias. (I had been mistaken that it billed itself as middle-of-the-road. See how uninformed one can be when one doesn’t regularly stay in touch with the news?) Good grief — as though the country needed any more liberal bias in the news media.
I searched for unbiased news apps and found a well-written blog whose first paragraph impressed me. Later in the same blog, this writer recommended Alternet as a good news source; however, a mere glance at its areas of focus shows it to be concerned with leftist causes. It may not be as blatant as some MSNBC news, but it’s still slanted, by virtue of topics chosen.
I generally like the deeper stylings of NPR on the radio — particularly on “All Things Considered,” but if I happen in to the Terry Gross’s Fresh Air programming and hear a pro-gay program one more time, I think I’ll yelp. Unbiased? Hardly. There’s no need for any more of that kind of championing in this country anymore. At least Fox News, which disingenuously claims to be more fair and balanced, is filling a void for the conservatives. I think I need to check out the PBS NewsHour sometime. I’ve only seen small bits here & there — maybe it’s a little less slanted than its radio counterpart.
Some might suggest that I try C-Span news for a bit. I see they have the actual no-spin zone itself in a 3-hour ideo of a congressional committee session (see below) on the unaccompanied immigrant children issue (not that I’ll actually listen to all of it!). . . . I might also read the Christian Science Monitor (whose originating movement is hardly Christian or scientific, but that’s beside the point if it reports news decently and in order). Maybe the Wall Street Journal, with its presumably fact-oriented, bottom-line approach, will be palatable — although I’m loathe to join myself to anything connected, even nominally, to the greed of stockholders and corporations.
A few weeks ago, I heard an experienced news correspondent being quizzed about his own news digestion habits. He commented that he hasn’t watched major network news for 20 years, feeling that it is “soft news” and that he gets everything he wants and needs by reading the likes of the Washington Post, whose op-ed writing he believes is the best available.
Journalism was once at least partly a highly thought of, even honorable — enterprise. These days, not so much. No offense meant to the best, most principled journalists such as several who made their names in decades gone by: Walter Cronkite, David Brinkley & Chet Huntley, John Chancellor, and the like.
The scenario these days is that the ideological agenda, not the reporting of facts, rules most news outlets.