No News is Good News

I’ve been up to something quite unusual for the last week and a bit. I’ve been deliberately ignoring as many news outlets as I can. This seems to be a minority stance, judging by the amount of news apps we have for our mobile devices and the pervasiveness of 24 hour news. I wandered into a local pub just today for lunch and was promptly confronted with BBC News 24 on the big screen, it seems that there’s no easy escape.

The news is mostly negative, let’s face it. The worst of it is that when an outlet tries to report only good news, their ratings plummet. It seems that we’re conditioned into thinking that only bad news is news. We’re also subjected to other cues that make the news seem to have greater importance than you might think. Of course, this means that we can be relied upon to locate only news that will worry us; thus making the negative view of the world even worse. To quote Henry David Thoreau:

“And I am sure that I never read any memorable news in a newspaper. If we read of one man robbed, or murdered, or killed by accident, or one house burned or one vessel wrecked, or one steamboat blown up, or one cow run over on the Western Railroad, or one mad dog killed, or one lot of Grasshoppers in the winter – we need never read of another. One is enough. If you are acquainted with the principle, what do you care for a myriad instances and applications?”

To be honest, from my own experience thus far the things you really need to know have away of getting through regardless. Why does it add to my day to know that someone in a far off land was killed or a plane crashed? If it affects me, I’ll learn of it; if not, there’s nothing I can do about it anyway. Certainly, things are feeling less tense. I’ll write more as the experiment progresses.

One Comment

  1. 6loss December 24, 2014

    I’ve been doing same for a few years – it kept leaving me angry, but at the newspaper rather than the story. Too many news outlets (deliberately) confuse ‘information’ with ‘entertainment’, including a modern trend to encourage judgement as part of that entertainment. A general rule is if you’re feeling emotional when reading something professionally written, it’s probably designed to invoke that a reaction – or *any* reaction.

    The main outlier is the FT, if you can ignore the adverts for expensive goods and apartments. Something about bringing things down to money makes information fairly non-emotional.

    Good luck (and happy Christmas!)

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