Should you read the news?Tuesday, November 19, 2013
I don't write much about current affairs on this here blog of mine. There are precisely seven posts discussing the events of the day, and of those, two are about hair, two are about the Royal Wedding, and one is about whether an independent Scotland would have a separate Eurovision entry. Hard-hitting stuff.
A couple of people I know and respect, both online and offline, have recently stopped reading all but the occasional story from the mainstream news media. Not because they don't care what happens in the world - far from it - but for personal, thoughtful reasons that make a lot of sense to me.
There are plenty of arguments in favour of being aware of what's going on around us. It helps us to participate fully in society, and expands our understanding of the world we live in. Sometimes a story is more than just a story and compels us to act: to vote in a critical election, or offer aid in times of crisis. The news informs us, educates us, broadens our horizons.
But there's a dark side to news, too. The ill-informed malice spewed forth in comments on news articles. The blatant bias, and - worse - the stealthy pushing of partisan agendas under the cover of respectable impartiality. The obsession with tragedy and horror, the need to report in infinite detail on horrendous events that, really, teach us nothing other than that the world for many is a hard and hostile place, and people can be really bloody awful. Do I need to know that some poor mad woman has murdered her children? Will it do anything other than depress me?
I don't know the answer. What do you think?
P.S. As if to prove that the news isn't all bad, while I was writing this post I found a link to this picture from the Guardian picture desk of a newborn Kirk's dik dik antelope, which is being hand-reared by keepers at Chester Zoo. It is without doubt the most adorable thing you will see all day. You're welcome.
French bulldog by Denise Fiedler