When I was a kid, the newspaper was delivered to our door every day; my parents would unfold it at the table and make their way through it, section by section.
By Rob Davis
It was part of being a responsible adult — like balancing the checkbook or stocking the refrigerator. Knowing what was going on in the world was part of the job.
The world has long since become a lazier place, with more people turning away from newspapers and tuning in to TV news instead. I’ve commented in the past how television news is increasingly saturated with entertainment stories and talking heads saying little of value. Sadly, that’s still the case. But what I find increasingly frustrating is that it seems there’s no broadcast offering a complete picture of what’s going on in the world.
The “local news” is saturated with minutia — yet another car accident, shootings in the Bronx, a traffic jam on the 101 — what else is news? (Why even call it news?) “National news” varies in tone from network to network, but it seems like all of the networks have agreed on a few narrow topics and cover them ad nauseam. Partisan “cable news” takes those same few topics and makes sure the talking heads go on about them in line with one political ideology — “analyzing” each story to death. Try watching the morning news; then come back and watch the news at 6:30pm. Watch again for the next two days. It’s the same regurgitated stories over and over again.
In all these scenarios, a world’s worth of news goes ignored. Take last year: Beyond the Orlando shootings, Donald Trump or the threat of Zika — front and center for months, where was the coverage of other world events? The impeachment of the Brazilian president: most of my friends were totally unaware. What else is happening in the world that people don’t have a clue about?
And now we face the perplexing problem of “fake news,” stories that go viral based on the fact that they appeal to what people would like to believe rather than what actually happened. Too often, by the time such stories are revealed to be utterly unsupported by fact, their damage has been done. Facebook says they’re taking steps to combat the spread of fake news — that supposedly these stories will appear with disclaimers or seem diminished in importance. But I find it hard to believe there are easy solutions to the fact that so many people believe so much misinformation.
I remember, a few months ago, everyone couldn’t wait for the election to be over; so we could finally get a break from the endless parade of Trump coverage on our televisions. Sadly, that parade has marched on — with everyone near a TV forced to listen to his endless self-aggrandizing, and stuck hearing news anchors read his latest tweets aloud.
So, as each flawed broadcast TV source begins to look more like all the others, it seems time we all seriously consider going back to bringing daily newspapers to our tables and going through them — section by section — and, yes, skipping over some pieces that we don’t need to read. But perhaps if we returned to reading the newspaper like it was part of our job as adults, we’d also be better informed and the process would feel a whole lot less monotonous.
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Last modified: October 13, 2017