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Article of the Week: Why You Should Stop Reading News

Why You Should Stop Reading News

Winifred Gallagher: “Few things are as important to your quality of life as your choices about how to spend the precious resource of your free time.”

We spend hours consuming news because we want to be well informed. But is that time well spent? News is, by definition, something that doesn’t last. And as news has become easier to distribute and cheaper to produce, the quality has decreased.

Rarely do we stop to ask ourselves questions about what we consume: Is this important? Is this going to stand the test of time — say, in a week or in a year? Is the person writing this someone who is well informed on the issue?

“[W]e’re surrounded by so much information that is of immediate interest to us that we feel overwhelmed by the never-ending pressure of trying to keep up with it all.”
— Nicolas Carr

There are several problems with the way we consume news today:

First, the speed of news delivery has increased. We used to have to wait to get a newspaper or gossip with people in our town to get our news, but not anymore. Thanks to alerts, texts, and other interruptions, news finds us almost the minute it’s published.

Second, the costs to produce news have dropped significantly. Some people write 12 blog posts a day for major newspapers. It’s nearly impossible to write something thoughtful on one topic, let alone 12. Over a year, this works out to writing 2880 articles (assuming four weeks of vacation). The fluency of the person you’re getting your news from in the subject they’re covering is near zero. As a result, you’re filling your head with surface opinions on isolated topics. Because the costs have dropped to near zero, there is a lot of competition.

Third, producers of news attempt to hijack our brains. News producers perpetuate a culture of “tune in, don’t miss out, follow this or you’ll be misinformed, oh wait, look at this!” As you consume more and more of that kind of news, you have less and less time for what matters.

Fourth, the incentives are misaligned. In part, because there is a lot of competition, most news outlets feel compelled to offer free news. After all, everyone else is doing it. However, when the news is free, you still need to pay people, so you move away from a subscription model that was selling static ads to a captive audience to a model that’s selling the audience to advertisers. Page views become the name of the game, and the more, the better. For a lot of people who create news (I won’t use the term “journalists” here because I hold them in high regard), the more page views they get, the more they are compensated. A lot of these ads aren’t just impressions; they’re also giving information about you to the advertisers, but that’s another story.

I could go on, but I think you’re starting to see the picture now….

READ THE REST at Why You Should Stop Reading News, and then stop reading news.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • ghostsniper June 17, 2020, 1:48 PM

    What news?
    What constitutes “news” these days was called gossip not too long ago and most people here remember that. Of late, “news” is about 50% anti-trump nonsense, 30% american communist criminal activities, and 20% bullshit. About 95% of all of that is made up lies, falsehoods, distortions, and abuses to the 1st amendment.

    Anne mentioned a very narrow target of boycotting the advertisers that pulled out from the Tucker Carlson show. That’ll show em won’t it? Terry said to turn off the TV. Nice start, but people have been doing those 2 things for a long time and it all gets worse.

    Hitting someone in their asspocket, as opposed to their dumpy mug, is the only way to effect behavioral change in the media. Not just the news, not just the advertisers of TC, ALL of them. The entire media empire and all of it’s tenacles.

    But that will never happen because most people simply cannot unplug. They may put in a half assed attempt, or a long term one in a narrow scope, but the media will just ride it out and soon all those people are right back in the media gutter again. For these people the only way to get them onboard is to take all of the glittery gadgets and send them all the way back to the 18th century. Cold assed turkey. They won’t do what needs to be done so the nature of things will make it so, probably within the next year, or even the next few months. Got beans, bandaids, bullets, and ballz? If you are lacking in any of those you will most likely not see next summer. http://www.ammoseek.com

  • John Venlet June 17, 2020, 2:07 PM

    Ghostsniper is correct. It really isn’t news any longer being consumed, it’s gossip, though it’s not real juicy. I just returned from a few days flyfishing with my sons, and when I plugged in again, nothing had changed in the world, except a few names and places had been exchanged for the ones prominently marketed on Saturday, the day I left to head North. I hadn’t missed anything, but I did catch few trout, enjoyed a liberal amount of bourbon and cigars with my twin sons, got cannonballed by a beaver that didn’t like it that I was standing in the stream chasing trout, shooed a looting racoon off my camp stove at 4 a.m. wanting to enjoy a bit of spilled bacon grease, and enjoyed the glory of the heavens late into the night.

  • Gordon Scott June 17, 2020, 2:07 PM

    Sorry, what? I was just checking the headlines . . . .

  • Rob De Witt June 17, 2020, 2:18 PM

    Jesus, just kill your fucking television. How hard is this? Are you really pleased to admit your addiction to something as transparently toxic as television?

    It’s long been my contention that when you turn on a television set, you’re greeted with the image of a smiling huckster with an expensive haircut, saying with a big smile “HI, STUPID!” After that everything is a lie, advertising, “entertainment,” “news”……commas, semicolons, all of it.

    Just grow up and learn to read. It’s never too late.

  • Vanderleun June 17, 2020, 2:51 PM

    Tim Pool has correctly pointed out CNN is not a News Source any more but has become a Reality Show with a bunch of people pretending to be sources and authorities but are really much more caught up in their orangemandbad buffo-comedy.

  • Auntie Analogue June 17, 2020, 4:22 PM

    “Crazy Miranda / lives on propaganda.
    She believes anything she reads.
    It could be one side, or the other,
    the Free Press or TIME-LIFE covers.
    She follows newsprint anywhere it leads.” – “Crazy Miranda” – Jefferson Airplane

  • rabbit tobacco June 17, 2020, 6:22 PM

    “Politics will eventually be replaced by imagery.
    The politician will be only too happy to abdicate
    in favor of his image, because the image will
    be much more powerful than he could ever be.”
    ― Marshall McLuhan

  • George_Banner June 17, 2020, 7:07 PM

    Wherever you are if you hear a noise you will look up from what you are doing to check it out.
    What’s new around you?
    If you are up a tree and you hear noise you will look down to see what’s what.
    What’s new down there?
    If you are in a cave and your hear a noise you’ll go to the cave’s mouth to peek outside and see what gives.
    What’s new outside?

    We read the news to be informed of what is happening because it is good for us to know.
    We won’t stop checking out the news.

    On the other hand, it is intelligent to not read filth from leftoxenomorph sources.
    It’s a waste of time.

    How do you recognize a leftoxenomorph source?
    It’s not difficult.
    The title will give them away, most of the time.
    For instance, any favorable use of these kinds of expressions and others of similar ones:

    social justice
    pay gap
    war on women
    rights of palestineans
    toxic masculinity
    islam is a religion of peace
    climate change
    personal pronouns
    indigenous woman of color
    democratic socialism
    modern monetary theory
    minoritized social identities
    destroying property isn’t violence
    defund the police
    white privilege
    check your privilege
    my fair share

    you can be sure it is a leftoxenomorph peddling leftoxenomorphism.
    They can’t help giving themselves away.
    You’ll smell them a mile away.
    You can drop it and move on.
    Nothing of value there.

    Then check the source to blacklist it.
    It’s not all that difficult.
    It takes me about four seconds to identify bullshit and drop it.
    And I never have to go back there.

    Then I haven’t turned on the TV in more than twenty years.
    And I don’t read papers.
    If there’s something worth checking out like Tucker Carlson I’ll find it on the net like I find all of the rest of my news.

    I don’t intend to stop checking out the news.

  • Jeff Brokaw June 17, 2020, 8:00 PM

    The media is 98% toxic bullshit that actively harms your well-being.

    But the rest of it is mostly true. Probably.

  • Casey Klahn June 17, 2020, 8:14 PM

    It is not news, it’s intell. All of it requires sifting through a very fine cheesecloth to try and find patterns, motives, trends of thought. I now use Drudge as the source for what the Chinamen and Libs want us to think.
    When I read a headline, I pretty much see everything that needs being seen.
    YouTube has some value because you can see moving pictures close to the events, although the police cams are the exact example of how pictures may lie real good. Poorly curated, though. Maybe that’s the next venture for some enterprising conservative? HINT.
    Twitter works not at all for facts but it is like a thermometer of breaking events. Sometimes just chaff, though.
    As a hunter, I look at the ground and the tree bark and the sky. I now know what is happening that’s important to me.

  • Ulysses Toole June 17, 2020, 8:14 PM

    Drove down University Ave. In St. Paul, MN. Many business gone (87). MPLS(?) 115

    They aren’t coming back.

  • Terry June 17, 2020, 8:39 PM

    Rob De Witt is dead-on.

    Kill the TV permanently. Worst virus that was ever on the planet, period. Want some proof. What is the number one item stolen from stores by the dark hoards in their “shopping” sprees? Giant TV’s. Boob toobs for continuing education of the non-working class. Keep the dumb . . . dumb.

  • CC June 18, 2020, 7:57 AM

    There’s a direct proportion to less TV / more rounds reloaded.
    Take it from there…

  • ghostsniper June 18, 2020, 8:20 AM

    George_Banner sed: “I don’t intend to stop checking out the news.”
    GS sed: Nobody said not to.
    George_Banner sed: “It takes me about four seconds to identify bullshit and drop it.”
    GS sed: 4 seconds here, 4 seconds there, by the time you get down to the bottom of the google news line up you’ve wasted an hour and your BP has risen 40 points and you need to hit that bottle of Fireball about 4 times to get back to normal. Gets ‘spensive.

    Just skip it and go straight for the Fireball and be done with it.
    As you said, when you hear a sound at the entrance to the cave….when you hear the hoard at the end of your street, it’s time to grab some winchesters, and let the news eat an entire bag of dix.

    Lastly, if you are stuffing trash into your head you’re not stuffing good stuff into it. A couple days ago I mounted an obstacle that may be more than I can manage but I move forward none the less. The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire, by Edward Gibbon. 2453 pages, more than twice the pages of Atlas Shrugged, my previous reading high water mark. This book is assembled like nothing I ever seen before and after skipping around in it for a day I went back to the beginning and decided to just take it one page at a time and see where it goes. Hard to ‘splain, you have to look at it and see what I mean. By filling my head with the past maybe I’ll have a better sense of the future. shrug

  • Missy June 18, 2020, 8:22 AM

    Winifred Gallagher, whose quote was cited in this excellent piece, wrote a book called “Rapt.” It is subtitled, “Attention and the Focused Life.” And how. Highly recommended.

  • John Venlet June 18, 2020, 9:15 AM

    Ghostsniper, Gibbon’s magnum opus work does take some time to devour, but front to back is the way to do it. I consumed this writing a number of years ago, and the thing that took up most of my time in reading it was my going to the footnotes appended to the book, which took me on a number of side routes of some distance, so it was a long and winding journey to get to the end. I did find it very interesting, though. “Plutarch’s Lives” was handy to have around while reading it too.

    First read “Atlas Shrugged” back in 1977, at the recommendation of my sister. Much of the plot of this work of Rand’s is still unfolding right before our eyes.

  • ghostsniper June 18, 2020, 9:46 AM

    John, thanks for the input on the Roman Empire. Yes, the foot notes, that’s what I alluded to earlier. They are monstrous. Can’t read 2 sentences without tangenting off into another part of the book. Your mentioning that caused me to rethink my tactic. I’m reading the pdf version. Here on my 8′ long desk I have 2 full tower computer rigs with (2) 24″ moniters side by side, and everything is linked so that I only use 1 mouse and 1 keyboard. There is a small switch I must press to go from 1 machine to the other. What I think I’ll do is copy that pdf to the other machine and have it open when I’m reading. Then, when I hit a reference to a foot note I’ll just go to the other machine and find that foot note while keeping my page place on the first machine. I’m going to look up Plutarch’s Lives as I’ve never heard of it. Thanks.

  • ghostsniper June 18, 2020, 9:51 AM

    Just looked up Plutarch’s Lives and found it in pdf.
    615 pages.
    Peepz was long winded back in the old daze.

    If you’re interested:

  • jwm June 18, 2020, 10:04 AM

    Like George Banner, and a few others here, I have no TV in the house. Won’t allow it. But it’s easier to find Zoroastrians that it is to find the ‘unplugged’. I first made note of this in the mid 1980’s when I started teaching high school. The Walkman was just becoming popular, and all the kids had them. I saw most all of the kids walking through their day constantly enveloped in a field of distraction. They were never without music, never without the radio feed, never without some trickle of information and entertainment dripping in their ears. I found it profoundly disturbing, even then. Something told me this would lead to a bad end. And this was close to forty years ago.
    Today it is worse by orders of magnitude. I’m sure So Cal is not unique. When I go out for my daily ten to fifteen miles on the bike, or even stand on the front porch of my house I see the same thing: people walking around bent over with their faces in the smartphone, a wire hanging out of one ear, and a safety mask covering everything but their eyes. These people never look away from the feed. They never unplug, even when they sit together for a meal. They’re all too busy with the latest pop tune, rap, or Twitter wit. They are sure that the virus will drop out of the sky and kill them in the middle of an empty street.
    The insanity is ubiquitous. It is breathtaking, and horrifying. I can’t shake the feeling that I’ve awakened into a very badly written dystopian science-fiction movie. Like the lyric in the old Buffalo Springfield song (which I always hated, and still do) “… thousand people in the street/ Singing songs, and carryin’ signs./ Mostly say, “Hooray for our side”
    But it isn’t, “hooray for our side”, it’s “Burn the witch, and destroy the bad magic”. The witch is you and me, and the bad magic is the “racism”, that evil spell that causes those poor unsuspecting black folk to live in perpetual dysfunction. You will notice that they don’t even pretend to promise some glorious future awaiting once the witches are dead, and the evil spell is broken.
    You all saw Pelosi, Schumer, et al bending a knee to the Moloch that is BLM. It is a god that offers no salvation, no path to a better future. This is militant nihilism. All it promises is the great Un-making of everything that is and has been accomplished. No life of any color will be the better for it. And they do not consider the aftermath or care about it. It’s all about wanton destruction.


  • John Venlet June 18, 2020, 10:13 AM

    Ghostsniper, your setup sounds like a handy system, though it’s one I don’t know if I could appreciate. I like those dead tree systems too much. Though I read many articles and essays on the ol’ puter, and cross reference footnotes and whatnot, I still prefer holding those books in my hand. My Lovely Melis is constantly berating me because my pile of books, reference and otherwise, by the reading chair keep stacking up and creeping over floor space. You’ve set yourself a goal, and one that will work well to assist in keeping from the gossip columns.

  • james wilson June 18, 2020, 10:23 AM

    By the 20th century history was already moving by too fast for people to comprehend and so the world became easy pickings for nihilist. Destroying is far easier than building. We will see how long they can hold even their hill of rubble.

  • James ONeil June 18, 2020, 10:54 AM

    Sitting up here on top of the world, while the morning coffee’s brewing I’ll open up and glance at Parler, Gab and Twitter to see with way the wind is storming. I’ll give a serious perusal to Instapundit, BookwormRoom and that poor guy stuck in California, what’s his name, oh yea, Vanderleun and then see what Bird dog notes over at Maggie’s Farm.

    Then a little thought ’bout what I’ve learned is happening in the ant nest, the lower forty eight & pretty much anything below the 61st parallel, & usually I can pretty much say that that don’t confront me none, and head out to enjoy another great day!

  • Skorpion June 18, 2020, 12:25 PM

    @ghost and others: Just thought of Gibbons the other day.

    It seems as if *Wokery* is to our late Empire, what Christianity was to the Romans around 300 CE, and the next Democratic POTUS will be our Constantine the Great.

  • Casey Klahn June 19, 2020, 6:42 AM

    Twitter informs this morning that more repubs are switching to Biden. YAAAWN.
    Twitter is dumber than a box of rocks.