It turns out that I like the news. I’m ditching my ‘no news’ experiment, and re-subscribing to the New York Times.
My central complaint from before, about how the news media influences us, and may lead to us believing things that aren’t true. Thinking about this more, while there may be some truth to this, I think that cutting out the daily news may be a case of ‘perfect is the enemy of good’. Trying to get to some state of perfect information is probably not possible, and trying to get there may actually make me less informed in the process.
We still certainly need to be vigilant, and critical. There’s currently some concern that Time Warner is using its position to bolster Hillary Clinton’s position through its cable news property CNN. (As Time Warner was a major donor to Clinton.) However, not following the news, you may have heard sentiment from others that Clinton won the debate, based on coverage that they had seen on CNN, but without the criticism of CNN’s position with respect to Clinton. On the flip side, most of the criticism of this has been around CNN declaring Clinton the winner of the debate, coming from those who claim that Sanders won, however I agree with Vox’s assesment of Clinton as the easy winner here. It’s really hard to make the case that Sanders actually did better in the debate. I like Sanders, but he floundered in spots where Clinton shined, and basically stuck to the same difficult to comprehend talking points that involve lots of fractions and percentages. Actually, you can probably get a fairly accurate picture of what Sanders stands for by watching James Adomian’s impersonation of Sanders on Harmontown (below).
More to the point though, is that I enjoy my daily routine of reading the news. There are things that I do miss on a daily basis of not reading, and there are lots of connections that I wouldn’t be able to put together without reading and paying attention. I also think that I probably read more than the average American, both of the daily news and non-fiction books that cover large, important topics. My previous post mentioned Americans not knowing much about global poverty, but I’ve actually read several books that discuss this directly (including how things are generally improving).
I realized that, at least for me, Aaron Schwartz’s assertion that you get more insights from reading books and long-form works than the daily news is not true (see previous post). While yes, in a single story from the daily news, I may not have a huge epiphany, but in aggregate, I think that it may be on par. I collect information from the daily news, and build up a picture of the world from little bits of information.