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culture politics

More News Isn’t Good News

Several weeks ago I signed up for journalist Dan Rather's free mailing list (there is a paid version too). As a recovering journalist, something he wrote recently touched on a topic I often consider; the endless and ever-expanding explosion of news content.

For all the outlets, all the niches, all the competition, what does this change do for how we are getting our news? And how is it changing? Are we better informed? Hearing from more diverse voices? More overwhelmed? More distracted? More confused? How do each of you sort through the news? What sources do you turn to? These are the questions on which I would love to hear your feedback.

That's a lot to unpack. During my childhood, before I cared for such things, news came from three TV stations sharing updates at 6 and 11 p.m. There were two daily metro newspapers (the liberal Free Press in the morning followed by the more conservative Times in the afternoon).

My gut tells me that while the number of crimes and violent acts has increased since the 1970s, the percentage of criminals relative to a larger population isn't much greater today. Our generation's curse is seeing all of the news from everwhere. The growth of the internet and 24-hour cable news networks has transformed what used to be local drama into national tragedies. Any freakish thing that happens has the potential to become headline news around the world.

I have to answer "Yes!" to Dan's questions about being overwhelmed and distracted. There is so much more than local news reported on our TVs and other media.

Dan continued with a broad question. Has your news consumption changed with the new presidency?

Feel free to respond in any way you wish, but I would like to specifically ask if your news consumption has changed with the new presidential administration. Do you read or watch less news? More? Different sources? More or less on social media? Look for more news that isn’t about politics?

Again, "Yes!"

During the five years of the Trump era I felt it was a civic duty to tune into the news if only to see how he had harmed America during the night. I rarely watch the news now because that fear is no longer stuck in my brain. I sleep better knowing our president is focused on governance, not Twitter statistics and adolescent social media clout.