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Stop Reading News (2013) (fs.blog)
211 points by galfarragem 13 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 201 comments

Ezra Taft Benson: "One must select wisely a source of news; otherwise it would be better to be uninformed than misinformed."

My own view is that you should reduce consumption dramatically, but still read some publications. And realize that in software, we have our own form of “news” that this missive applies to.

Here’s my media literacy guide:


And one just for the tech industry (including HN):


Very cool. Thanks for sharing.

FWIW sharing my primary global non-tech news source while we are at it: The Financial Times to me is all the important news without the fluff and very much worth the subscription price. Obviously there is a heavy focus on economic news (but not exclusively).

I especially like the News Briefing which I can listen to conveniently with a "Hey Siri, play the FT News Briefing" while doing my morning routine. These podcasts as well as Alphaville (https://ftalphaville.ft.com) are actually free.

I delved into FT last year through exploration of the Media Bias Chart for the US: https://www.adfontesmedia.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/Med...

I probably should read more widely but I had been disappointed by traditional outlets like the BBC or The Economist for a long while now. It also feels like the world's balance of power is shifting heavily at this time so I'm not sure where I can get high quality global news without our natural western bias (our perspective increasingly feels like wishful thinking to me).

I will second Financial Times as a great news source. It's also a great conversation starter if you subscribe ("why is your newspaper pink"?).

Financial news, in general, tend to be my favorites because their biases don't tend to fall strongly along political lines, so you get fewer outrage-of-the-day stories, fewer what's-trending-on-twitter stories, and less politics in general - unless it's a really meaningful story that can affect markets.

I always remember what Chomsky said about this: Business newspapers actually tend to be as true-to-reality and BS-free as possible, since they need to present information as accurately as possible for businesspeople to make the right decisions.

There is always western bias. You are in the U.S., with your U.S. perspective, probably reading a piece by someone with a U.S. perspective. How can you possibly write accurately about Malaysia if you've never grown up there, don't know the social customs, don't know what people do there, don't know the slang, don't have friends or relatives there, never had a job there, never went to school there, never eaten the food there, never cooked the food there, etc. Bias exists because you can't possibly write about something you have no perspective on, and you can't find a good writer with relevant perspective on every single event in the world; there will never be unbiased news because it is impossible to get perspective on every event.

What I find fascinating is how we can quantify this bias. Here are two examples of my research on the NY Times with terrorism coverage by region + general coverage by country:

How Media Fuels our Fear of Western Terrorism: https://www.nemil.com/s/part2-terrorism.html

Visualizing 10 years of International Coverage in The New York Times: https://www.nemil.com/s/nytimes-international-coverage.html

If you want more alternative perspectives, especially about the East, South China Morning Post could be an interesting choice. IMO they do a decent job in presenting opinions from both sides (definitely nothing similar to the CCP propaganda newspapers).

FT is fine as far as it goes, but it ignores most of the world's news except for business/finance stuff and the same mostly-useless "headline" stories you see everywhere else. Unless all you care about is the finance markets, it doesn't have much to say that is important your life and the world.

That filter is exactly what makes it valuable to me. Financial news still has to report political news if it has real-world impact on the economy, or a company or a politician of sufficient import.

So watching CNBC, for example instead of NBC Nightly News, you'll still know all about the government shutdown or the possible resignation of the governor of Virginia or a winter storm shutting down half the country, but you won't have to endure endless, excruciating segments about a kid smiling at a guy beating a drum.

IMHO "the economy" underpins everything. I'm not sure what is more important to know about on a systemic level.

I find Al Jazeera to be quite unbiased.

I've noticed that ever since the blockade of Quatar began, Al Jazeera has been slowly starting to push soft propaganda. The Best thing about AJ is that has stories from places that other news outlets ignore.

That's a great article about how toxic media is. I skimmed but didn't see the part that helps me find good media, just a guide that will help me reject bad media (which is all the media I can find)

When I realized that "the news" have much more influence shaping mine and my friends opinion, I was shocked. It passively or they actively distract you from things that really matter in your life [0] (availability heuristic [1]).

And given that 80% of its content is written by PR agencies [2] you can be sure, that every possible cognitive bias will be applied to keep you busy.

[0] https://www.theguardian.com/media/2013/apr/12/news-is-bad-ro...

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Availability_heuristic

[2] https://www.theguardian.com/media/2003/nov/17/mondaymediasec...

> Given that a (conservative) estimate of 75% of entertainment stories and 50 to 80% of news and business stories emanate from public relations

She doesn't cite any sources to back up those figures. Do you have any available?

One piece of anecdata: I subscribed to the Economist briefly last year and it was one of the best things I've done as far as advancing myself as a person. While the vast majority of what written about wasn't immediately relevant to me (compared even to a random programming-related blog post), it did a lot to enlighten me on the value of good journalism and broaden my world view as well as keeping me reasonably informed on happenings in the world. I stopped subscribing to the Economist because I couldn't find time to read every edition cover to cover, but I plan on starting again this year.

I also subscribe to https://lwn.net which brings up another thing -- supporting the organizations that make the news is important if you want news that is good (even if it's irrelevant right now) from being produced.

I don't think you need to read the Economist cover to cover to get value from it.

Generally when I buy a copy, it goes something like this:

- News in brief at the front

- Feature articles that I particularly like the sound of

- Then I go through it skimming and stopping when something catches my eye based on how much time I have

Getting the digital version also means you don't feel the pang of the dead tree sat there making you guilty, too.

I am an Economist subscriber and just download the audio edition each week. I listen to it when doing other tasks that don't require 100% mental focus such as housework and am usually able to complete each week's issue before the next one releases. I am not absorbing the content as well as if I were to sit down and read each issue, but this is a reasonable tradeoff for me.

They also have an android/iphone app for subscribers, but I've had a lot of issues with playing audio through it and find it much easier to simply download each week's .zip file of .mp3's and play them with my audio player of choice.

It is hard to find time to read The Economist from cover to cover. I try to at least look at each article, and read at least half of them. Even The Economist has some articles that seem ephemeral: for example, a discussion of whether a particular merger will or won't happen.

The same could be said of keeping up with the front page of HN. I imagine most of us pick and choose which items to give attention to.

This article is right on.

- Avoiding the daily news likely will NOT make you any less informed.

- Avoiding constant media consumption will NOT give power to a central authority and reduce your rights.

A lot of the counter arguments here are seemingly from individuals defending the amount of time they spend consuming content.

To those who read the news religiously, what was the last news item that you, personally, took action on? Can you remember it? Ok. GREAT!

--> Now, be objective with yourself. What % of news items did YOU take action on? Did it give you a >0 return on invested time?

If you avoid the news long enough, eventually you will find that your rights have been reduced without you noticing.

You absolutely can take real action with financial implications for yourself from news items - I made £1k from a single Telegraph article on how the Royal Mail IPO was grossly underpriced. I've adjusted my pension allocation on the assumption that the pound would fall against the dollar and done quite well on that too.

But for much news it's not so much "achieving a positive return" as avoiding a negative. It's the Arthur Dent effect: one day you wake up to find aliens about to bulldoze your planet, and they tell you that you were warned and should have known about it. There's a lot of that these days. I'm surrounded by people who have taken Brexit-related actions of one kind or another, especially all the Europeans who suddenly have to register to avoid deportation. I factored it in to my job change, not as a major factor, but it's convenient to be working for a US multinational rather than a company exporting or importing physical goods from the EU.

I don't even seek out that much news any more, it just keeps leaking in via social media. I should make more effort to follow local news, because that really is the place where I can find out if someone's going to put a bypass through my house or disrupt my bus route, and have a chance of stopping it.

My last news I took action on was the weather, which happens rather often actually.

But I must disagree with your final question, because I don't think percentages matters. An extreme example: if you read about some new life saving drug for a disease that a loved relative of yours have, how many useless articles is that worth? Twenty years of articles? Thirty? A lifetime?

>Avoiding constant media consumption will NOT give power to a central authority and reduce your rights.

Are you part of a class of people who have rights that are in danger? Do you think everyone is safe from that?

Vide "I Hate the News" by Aaron Swartz http://www.aaronsw.com/weblog/hatethenews (news as an overvalued distraction) and recent "The Welfare Effects of Social Media" http://web.stanford.edu/~gentzkow/research/facebook.pdf (on average, quitting Facebook makes one a bit happier... and much less up-to-date with news; maybe it is not just an irrelevant correlation).

For the last 4-5 years, Hacker News has been pretty much my only source of any kind of news outside of the topics that I work with on a daily basis. This is true.

Before that, I did not read newspapers or follow any kind of journalism. I still recall being around age 12 or 13 and making a conscious decision not to watch TV anymore. It has been around just as much time since I last saw a TV news report.

Maybe it has something to do with mentality? Is the new generation reading news? I highly doubt it. I think the new generation is caught up in quizzes that stir up emotions, and psychological tests that determine whether a giraffe is your spirit animal.

I'm not even sure if that makes sense, but I know that newspapers don't make any sense whatsoever; despite it being the livelihood of so many folks.

How can anyone justify reading news that only talk about negative things? I don't have time for that kind of nonsense in my life. I know the system is broken, corrupt, beyond repair -- why remind me about it every day?

> Is the new generation reading news? I highly doubt it.

Instead of doubting it, try doing some research.

"Age does not impact people’s attentiveness to various news topics. Even the youngest adults are as likely to pay attention to news [...] as older adults. Further, they are no more likely than older adults to follow news on lifestyle topics."[1]

> I think the new generation is caught up in quizzes that stir up emotions, and psychological tests that determine whether a giraffe is your spirit animal.

This is incredibly condescending and seemingly not based in any statistical reality.

> I know the system is broken, corrupt, beyond repair -- why remind me about it every day?

Because knowing how "the system" is broken today (which differ from yesterday or last week) makes you an informed citizen. When enough informed citizens vote, the system is significantly less broken.

If you don't inform yourself and vote, you are one of the reasons the system is still dangerously broken. I hope well-run governments are not a matter of life and death for you, because they are for billions of other people.

1. https://www.americanpressinstitute.org/publications/reports/...

This is assuming the vote actually has a significant impact on the state of things. I vote, but I'm not sure I could justify that belief with evidence.

I saw a meme once that said, "I don't vote because I think it'll fix things. I vote so I know I'm not one of the reasons things are broken."

Not sure if that helps, but thank you for voting!

Sounds like the "Road Not Taken"※ - they think either choice will keep things broken, yet one of them makes all the difference.


No, because in this case your vote changes the final number of the vote. Even the losing side can have political power if they have a big enough base.

Thank you for this reply.

> I know the system is broken, corrupt, beyond repair -- why remind me about it every day?

Perhaps only having Hacker News as your source of news has led to that mentality. That's not to say it isn't broken, or there isn't corruption, but I don't think things are beyond repair, and they can certainly be worse.

> Perhaps only having Hacker News as your source of news has led to that mentality.

Ok, next time I will omit the part where I say that HN has been my only source of news.

> For the last 4-5 years, Hacker News has been pretty much my only source of any kind of news outside of the topics that I work with on a daily basis. This is true.


Hacker News is a content aggregator, no different than Reddit, Twitter or Facebook. The posters here are not unbiased, nor are they likely to be experts in every subject they comment on, unless it's about tech, and then only maybe.

I can understand preferring Hacker News for technical news, or to avoid mainstream news, but as a primary news source? I think you're letting HN's elitist cultural bias cloud your sense of objectivity if you think this one internet forum is a better a news provider than any other.

I'm not sure OP is saying HN is better. It might simply be the only site they visit regularly that happens to link to mainstream news articles.

I consider it a little dangerous to rely on a single news source. Granted HN as an aggregator is better than relying on a single paper but it's still a bit unhealthy to read all news in a HN framing (assuming you read comments+newsitem). Even if you just use it as an aggregator it's still fairly selective.

Additionally, HN is very "high level". I don't know how involved you are in the community you live in but I always consume at least one "hyperlocal" paper (+local radio) to stay up to speed on the things that happen in my immediate neighborhood.

> but I always consume at least one "hyperlocal" paper (+local radio) to stay up to speed on the things that happen in my immediate neighborhood.

I use FB in order to stay up-to-date with news from my childhood town, of which I moved out 18 years ago. It kind of gives me a feeling of belonging, even though almost all of my friends and even my parents have moved out of that town.

> Is the new generation reading news? I highly doubt it. I think the new generation is caught up in quizzes that stir up emotions, and psychological tests that determine whether a giraffe is your spirit animal.

I think that you would know more about the information habits of the new generation if you actually researched it, instead of relying on HN as your only news source...

This community definitely has a lot of biases of its own, no matter how much it tries to deny it, so really, I think that for anyone, getting news from multiple sources makes it easier to come up with a more holistic interpretation of current events.

I'm with you, though I sometimes supplement it with news.google.com which at least mentions when certain articles are commentary. If a story interests me enough then I go ahead and research it from all major media sources, especially opposing sides and do my best to form a conclusion that makes sense, usually keeping those to myself since others will only have familiarity with one source or the next. Of course sometimes I land on the not-so-major media sources like blogs that call out mainstream media issues too.

I'm what the mainstream media calls a millennial (only discovered I had that title after 10 years of being one apparently, shows how much I buy into the Media). I have seen time and time again how toxic the media can be even for democracy. During the last election where Ron Paul was a candidate they gave him the least amount of air time on television[0][1][2], and thus he became irrelevant to most Americans because they are glued to the TV and the news organizations, he wasn't the kind of person that would of sold advertisement eye balls I guess. I guess if you want a solid candidate to be president buy all the ad space most major news organization will offer? He was a rare gem I got excited to vote for but couldn't.

[0]: https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2011/10/ron-pau...

[1]: http://www.journalism.org/numbers/are-media-ignoring-ron-pau...

[2]: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/is-ron-paul-getting-unfair-medi...

Same. HN is the only stream of "news" I consume. And I kind of miss the older HN where non-tech "news" was immediately flagged to oblivion. So now I have to consciously skip irrelevant stuff (arguably like this one).

There was never such a time. pg himself (the creator of the site), who left in 2014, submitted way more liberally than just tech stuff: https://news.ycombinator.com/submitted?id=pg

> (arguably like this one)

Your comment shows how conscious you are while skipping "irrelevant" stuff.

Which was exactly my point. HN used to curate the content for me.

> I think the new generation is caught up in quizzes that stir up emotions, and psychological tests that determine whether a giraffe is your spirit animal.

You're definitely wrong on this point (and as others have said, it's a condescending sentiment).

This has always happened. I'm 28 and online quizzes and tests were _very_ common when I was school age.

My parent's generation also took lots of quizzes and tests, albeit they were in newspapers and magazines (and you had to tally up your own results).

> I think the new generation is caught up in quizzes that stir up emotions, and psychological tests that determine whether a giraffe is your spirit animal.

Given the activism they're showing in, eg, the US, I think if you read the news, you'd be surprised how wrong you are.

> How can anyone justify reading news that only talk about negative things?

To be aware of them in order to help fix them?

How do you know what fixes are working if you only read negative things?

A lot of that activism is more performative than practical, judging by voter turnout.

Didn't the last US election have the largest turnout in the past century? See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2018_United_States_elections

It did, the activists lost.

How so?

The number of people who perform some kind of activism is way lower than voter turnout. What makes you think there are lots of people who are doing "performative" activism that isn't translating into them voting or otherwise participating in the system?

> What makes you think there are lots of people who are doing "performative" activism that isn't translating into them voting

I don't think that. Activism isn't translating into non-activists voting, hence activism being performative.

Votes are weak if there is no one or nothing of substance to vote for.

HN is my news feed for tech, but I have realised that my news feed for "rest of the world" has reduced down to radio / TV weekly comedy shows. Things like BBC news quiz or Mock The Week, (similar to US's John Oliver/ Steve Colbert) actually do a fairly good job of capturing the headlines and providing concise updates. As well as enough cynicism to keep me on my toes.

The only time it failed me was a few years back when a disgruntled Tory party donor spread rumours that the then PM David Cameron had put his dick in a pigs mouth as a university hazing ritual. As no mainstream media would ever dare print that, but people slowly got the right twitter link from friends, there were two weeks when a "oink oink" joke would cause half the country to convulse in laughter and the other half (me included) to wonder what the hell was going on.

You have just stated that your source of news is comedians who were doing standup routines in nightclubs before their current TV gig and, in fact, still do comedy at night clubs (John Oliver for one).

That's OK. A lot of people aren't aware of that. You can fix that.

Can you be specific about what you find problematic about that?

You don't have a problem receiving your news from a comedian versus a trained journalist?

I've done the same, but only for the past few years. I grew tired, emotionally exhausted even, of being bombarded with strongly biased negativity, images of war, brutality, poverty and injustice, NIMBYism and fake outrage - and most of all, at my sense of helplessness against it all. I could do nothing about any of it, and resolved to remove it from my life.

Since I did so, I've been much happier. I can't avoid all news - for example, I see non-tech stuff on HN sometimes, or see Trump's latest nonsense in my Twitter timeline - but with the exception of technical stuff on HN, I never seek it out.

Wow you just shat on people who read the news and people who don't in a single comment, while elevating your own head-buried-in-the-sand preference as the elite choice.

I'm not even mad! That's amazing!


That's the same reason I don't watch news on TV, they're always covering negative stories about how politicians are corrupt, big organizations cheat the system, etc. I just don't feel like being more pessimistic than I already are.

HN is a good filter. If it makes it to HN and happens in the real world then it probably is worth taking note.

Regarding your choice not to watch TV at age 12-13, this reminds me of reading tabloid newspapers at that age or possibly earlier. It all seemed so much below me and for people that must be thick.

HN is NOT a good filter though it's better than some. Judging by the person's statement, he is around 18 years old. For all I know, so are you. And so are 80% of anonymous "news" sources posted here.

Anonymous postings on the internet, no matter where, are the worst thing that has happened to civilization since anonymous reports to the police of wrongdoings of a neighbor.

The comment you are referring to was made by someone considerably older than eighteen.

> Is the new generation reading news? I highly doubt it. I think the new generation is caught up in quizzes that stir up emotions, and psychological tests that determine whether a giraffe is your spirit animal.

When people write of the 'new generation' they tend to be a generation older and slightly out of touch with this 'new generation'. I think you are allowing your assumptions to cloud your judgement somewhat.

80% of this so-called 'news' that you are seemingly quite assertive in defending is the creation of PR agencies. Not sure what relevance your comments on 'anonymous news' has to do with my comment.

I stand by my original comment, there is no point getting engrossed in the Punch and Judy Trump show, Brexit or anything else of that ilk. There is also another question that has to be asked of news - 'does this affect my life or the world I live in?' This applies to sport too, following with a passion the comings and goings of sports celebrities is a waste of time unless you play the sport yourself.

Hence HN is a very good filter. A normal news source will have stories that are clickbait, hard to not be interested in at an entertainment level.

This attitude does not mean passivity, a lack of interest in the world and a lack of engagement in politics. On the contrary, people that shout at their TV to the tune of the latest Trumpisms are stuck on their sofa and not doing anything.

I am NOT defending television or radio as a news source. Far from it. I am very aware of its creation by PR and ad agencies. Not only did I work in the TV and radio business for 10 years but my nephew's fiance is a producer for a large TV station. I think she's great so I bite my tongue.

I can think of a few worse things that have happened to civilization

non-anyomous postings are holding their own quite well.


I would like to add the Wikipedia portal Current Events to the list of alternative news sources in this thread.


I like how it's short, to the point and reflects events worldwide uniformly

and the word "Trump" isn't anywhere to be found!

The beef I have with journalism is that every time they write on a topic I have good knowledge of, I find their coverage to be lame and lacking depth. Which leads me to a more generalized assumption that this is probably true for any given subject, except perhaps politics. Most notable example I can think of is how the media covers A.I. issues. I don't expect newspapers to have book quality analysis but at the very least I expect some kind of integrity. If I have to wonder every time whether the journalist knows what he/she's talking about then I'd rather not read them at all.

This has a name: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gell-Mann_amnesia_effect

Although I think it bears saying that journalists really might be doing a better job of reporting on the politics that is their own main interest than on the science stories which are far outside their own interest and expertise, and which they may well regard as lower priority for accuracy.

Only the largest publications can afford or have the clout to have experts writing their stories. I don't trust WiRED to write a biology article, but with a big story NYT will reach out to a professor in the field and publish their input on the topic, for instance.

I can only consume so much information, and most of the news is presented as low-quality information or information pollution.

The 24/7 news cycle makes the quality problem even worse.

Here are two more similar links:



I don't like the binary choice to either read the news or ignore it. We just need to be mature enough to curate what we read, hopefully striking a healthy balance between our personal lives and what's going on in the world outside of that.

If you want to understand better than 99% of the population where the world is heading, you could do a lot worse than reading a few of the titles in the Economist's books of the year list.

Even better, read Machiavelli, human nature hasn't changed and it will help you interpret the news.

Also watch the documentary "The Century of The Self"; most news is propaganda, and this will help you spot it.

And, if you must read the news, aim for a bit of diversity (i.e. both media from the right and the left, and events in your country as seen from abroad, and triangulate), otherwise you will easily get brainwashed, censorship in dictatorships tries to block media it can't control for this very reason.

Headlines are clickbait more often than not, don't believe them, and "breaking news" is abused so often that it's become a meaningless tag.

Don't use social media as a news source, it's abysmal, even worse than tabloids.

After spending well over two years all over Africa (and previously 2 year all over Latin America) I've come to the conclusion that "news" today is no such thing.

What is sold as "news" today is just whatever dramatic world events some producer thinks will get ratings which is important so they can keep their job.

In no way does it give people a well-rounded or informed position about anything as the word "news" implies.

Drop the "today", it's cleaner.


Regarding Brexit, I got so fed up with all the media spin around it, that I set up a TVHeadend[1] server on my network, and started watching (rather listening to while I work) BBC Parliament live via a small window on my screen using VLC. Once you start hearing the de-facto source for news events, it's amazing how brazen the mass media are in the manipulation of how they reported those events to support their own agendas.

I've been doing this now for about 1 month, and although some of the coverage is mundane, most of it is quite interesting. It's also good as background 'noise' as I work from home, which can be too quiet at times.

For technical news, I follow HN, and a few other sources. I tend to cross reference the reporting and try to see through the manipulation.

Beyond technical and political news (both of which can affect me directly), I no longer have an interest in other more 'general' news. Sure, an earthquake in Indonesia may be newsworthy for example, but as it doesn't affect me directly, why waste my time with it?

We've all been conditioned to suck up all world news as if it is important - Most of it isn't, and only exists to fill airtime and/or sell adverts. Calculate how much time it takes for you to consume your daily news, and then ask yourself if that was time well spent. My guess is that it probably isn't.

Finally, depressing news sells, and good news doesn't. People want to feel that they have a better life than the sad people shown on the news. The same thing goes for Soap Operas, they trade on this effect to keep viewers. In fact the absolute reverse happens - over time, people get more depressed watching depressing news, than they would if they didn't. The effect is more pronounced in people who 'catch up' on the news just before bedtime.


[1] https://tvheadend.org/

>started watching (rather listening to while I work) BBC Parliament live

Sounds like compiling a list of sources like this, Oyez, and others (for people who just don't know these things can be found if one looks) could be of immediate practical benefit to society.

I buy the bit about being critical about what news we consume, but I just don’t see a complete avoidance of news as being a good solution. To me, not reading news would remove more value from my life than reading too much.

My personal fix for news media was to identify exactly what I wanted from a news paper and then identify the one which suited my needs best.

This turned out to be a paper, which at the time (2017) only had a printed version. No online version at all, they do now, but I’ve never visited it. It’s a high lixcount paper with a heavy focus on society (as in statecraft not cocktails), culture and arts/literature. It’s basically the perfect paper for our cultural elite. I’m not really part of that, and I always skip the book and arts sections, so you could say the paper isn’t exactly a perfect match. It’s underlying political philosophy doesn’t even align with mine.

The thing is though, it only comes out on Fridays. This means the paper only focuses on the stuff that’s actually relevant. It also means the articles have actually journalistic depth. The combination of this means I get to stay informed without being bothered by all the irrelevant noise in the regular news cycle.

It’s been truly awesome, and if something critical happens I can always turn to internet news.

What is the name of this paper?

Weekendavisen, it’s a Danish paper though.

He could have written a much longer article on this if he wanted to; there are deeper issues related to this subject. The characterisation of this should be news-news (company releases a new wossname, generally not a problem) and politics-news where society decides what is happening and what should be done about it. The big question is really: How does "the societal discourse" handle complicated issues?

I don't see much evidence that society at large can take an interest in a subject and maintain a sophisticated position like "there isn't enough evidence here to form an opinion". The closest that seems to be achieved in practice is two interest groups completely at loggerheads, preventing any action due to their strident opposition of each other.

In game theory terms, is there a system where a consensus opinion and a focused group of crazies can coexist without compromising in the direction of the crazies? Because the power of a focused group of political extremists is so great that it distorts political action and has significant flow on effects to journalism as political forces vie for control of the public discourse. The type of discipline to deal with something like that is clearly beyond most citizens.

I think society doesn't purposefully handle it at all currently, issues are solved by accident through simply waiting for new technologies to make all the old problems disappear. Sometimes a problem is so gigantic that no amount of spin and delusion can deny it and then things do tend to get fixed but usually with a few new problems in there as well. Regarding your game theory question: One group being immovable in thought inevitably leads to either that group gaining more members or new immovable groups forming to fight that contender at the same level.

I, for one, would love a monthly email newsletter that summarizes the top ~100 news stories of the past 30 days. Things that turned out to be irrelevant would be ignored, while things that turned out to be important would be included and briefly commented upon.

Magazines like The Economist sort of fulfill this role, but they are often a little too detailed for the high-level overview I'm looking for.

The Economist does include a one page summary of the week's news near the start, with just one or two sentences for each story. You can use that to decide which you wish to read a whole article about later in the paper. You can even choose not to read any, though admittedly it would be a bit expensive to buy the paper and read only one page of it. (There is also a page about business news, reflecting the publication's title, and it's often worth looking at the first couple of those.)

Also worth looking at unconditionally are the letters page, which is always very good and sometimes has very famous correspondents (occasionally from tyrannical regimes making preposterous statements, with no response from the paper), and the obituary, which has an eclectic selection of very famous and very unknown individuals.

I think of something similar but less "news" lead - for example a backlog of the most "important" global issues (yes we can out climate change at number one) but it's things like "water shortages in southern sudan" at number 18 and so on that really will give perspective - when we see things like Brexit at number 67 that we know we have a proper balance.

I would start with a metric like "estimated number of excess human deaths from this issue in next year, five years fifty years" and have open transparent ways to assess the metric

How do you apply discrete metrics to topics that people value differently?

the same way newspaper editors do - they apply a set of curated values - and people buy the set of values they think matches theirs most closely.

at least this way we are transparently surfacing the issues and there is ability for people to apply different curation criteria

Basically I would love to get the weekly report from the US national security advisor - that's basically what I think Inam trying to create.

NYT and WaPo have weekly (daily too) newsletters that you can just have a rule move to a folder and check once a month.

The 2 principles of anonu apply here:

1. Moderation in all things

2. The devil is in the details. There's a bit more nuance to the situation.

Your attention is yours. What happens in the media, Facebook, etc... Is an attempt to take your attention. For the most part your allocation is spent where the biggest dopamine hit can come from. If you start valuing your attention based more on an ROI calculation where your return is "did I learn something useful from a balanced source that can help form my world view?" Then you quickly start to cut out the BS.

Here are my tips for high ROI consumption:

Read long form articles about a subject. Skip over them if needed so a as not to waste time.

Call BS early. Poorly written books or articles should be nixed immediately.

Avoid the sugar: low ROI stuff like Instagram, Facebook, Reddit

Do not stop reading news. Be selective with your sources. Be a discerning news consumer.

An uninformed populace is a malleable one. Controlling and limiting information has long been a strategy for despots or worse.

> The point is, most of what you read online today is pointless

Don't read that then. Read sources you believe are important to you and deliver information that is important.

Be a discerning news consumer.

> Being well informed isn’t regurgitating the opinion of some twenty-two-year-old with no life experience telling me what to think or how outraged to be.

This isn't news, it's opinion. Don't read this.

Be a discerning news consumer.

> Read from publications that respect and value your time, the ones that add more value than they consume.

In other words, be a discerning news consumer.

> Read fewer articles and more books.

This is a weird argument.

Look, people hate the media, so an argument like this is an easy sell. But rejecting information from the media is a concession to power.

Ironically it's easier than ever to be informed, but harder than ever to maintain self-discipline and avoid consuming junk.

The Media Bias Chart is a good tool for assessing the quality of sources: https://www.adfontesmedia.com/

Select one or two sources at the absolute pinnacle of the chart (bias score of between -6 and 6, quality score of 56+). Once a day, spend 10 minutes scanning the headlines in their Top News sections.

Once a week, select a source with a quality score of 32+ and set aside an hour or two reading their opinions/analysis columns. For bonus points, alternate between the left and right sides of the pyramid.

On a few hours a week you will quickly become, by far, one of the most well-informed people you know. You'll develop a balanced and even-minded view of world and local affairs (if you're currently stressed out about the state of the world, this will have a therapeutic effect). You'll rarely get sucked into clickbait, filter bubbles, etc. and when you do you'll recognize them quickly.

The opposite of this strategy is to spend several hours a day consuming "news" from Facebook, Twitter, and the "sources" on the far left and right of the pyramid. This is what the OP warns about. Abandon all hope ye who enter here. This will warp your view of reality and damage your mental health.

If you want to have a healthy body you need to select a diet of quality foods. If you want to have a healthy mind you need to select a diet of quality information. (In both cases, some light fasting can be beneficial too.)

> An uninformed populace is a malleable one.

A overreacting population is even more malleable.

>This isn't news, it's opinion. Don't read this.

>Be a discerning news consumer.

Media, even big mainstream media, is very flexible regarding the distinction between news and opinion; the latest big example being the maga-kids and how people were rewriting the same articles over and over on debunked facts.

I am not saying to stop following the news, but more than reading trusted sources you should mostly distrust most news. In this context I like how Tim Pool describe how too many journalist are in a twitter bubble.

How does this make any sense? Why should you distrust news because they report on inconsequential stuff? Whatever is on twitter is still a real fact because they repeat, verbatim what people post on it.

Distrust implies they're lying to you, when most of the time they aren't.

How do you know most of the time they aren't lying?

Because I can check the sources. I can go to the Twitter profile and search the tweet. I can corroborate sources.

Whether its the correct interpretation or whether the content of the tweet itself is factual depends on several factors. And I agree, the news has some play in interpreting the information because they have to generate content through additional discussion (ie. business), and because everything needs some form of interpretation.

The irony is, the OP might as well say stop reading Hacker News, because this site is a publicly curated news outlet filled with BS and non-BS content everyday. So, should we stop reading Hacker News because it could spread lies or opinion?

> "Whatever is on twitter is still a real fact because they repeat, verbatim what people post on it."

This, right here, is the problem. Something is not a FACT just because it's being repeated over and over on Twitter. In fact, I have a feeling the correlation between accuracy and Twitter-repetition is probably inverse.

What's fact is what is being stated on Twitter, not that the content itself is fact. People are known to say inaccurate, untruthful things. Is it wrong to report what people state?

You completely misunderstood what I meant.

For example, if someone Tweets that the earth is flat and the news reports this statement, the reported statement is fact because someone can go to Twitter and read that profiles tweets and there's clear evidence that this account represents said person, even if they didn't physically write the tweet.

The tweet itself is not fact, for obvious reasons. You can apply this to any ignorant statement anyone has ever uttered.

This is what I hear, as an avid news listener, whenever a tweet is the subject. Its simply someones written, public testimony. To not report these things, makes no sense.

There is an entire subreddit devoted to people falling for onion headlines on social media.

Have you heard of the Murray Gellmann Amnesia Effect? How do you know the source you are reading is trustworthy? I've witnessed the Murray Gellmann effect in my area of specialty which is mathematics. It makes me wonder about articles in areas outside of my specialty.

I recently watched the Netflix documentary on the Fyre Festival. I also watched the one on Hulu. One of the documentaries was produced by a company involved in that whole mess but you wouldn't be able to tell by watching the documentary. Due to consolidation of media it seems to me that it is easier to spin and control a narrative. I don't think any of the popular sources of information are trustworthy.

For those that don't know, here is Michael Crichton's speech where it comes from:

"Briefly stated, the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect is as follows. You open the newspaper to an article on some subject you know well. In Murray's case, physics. In mine, show business. You read the article and see the journalist has absolutely no understanding of either the facts or the issues. Often, the article is so wrong it actually presents the story backward—reversing cause and effect. I call these the "wet streets cause rain" stories. Paper's full of them. In any case, you read with exasperation or amusement the multiple errors in a story, and then turn the page to national or international affairs, and read as if the rest of the newspaper was somehow more accurate about Palestine than the baloney you just read. You turn the page, and forget what you know.”

Whole speech here: http://docdro.id/4wgVecr

> then turn the page to national or international affairs, and read as if the rest of the newspaper was somehow more accurate about Palestine than the baloney you just read

Surely that only works if the same combination of journalists and subeditors work on all the stories? Just because Margaret has written some pop-sci junk about robots doesn't suddenly make Malcolm's commentary on Botswana any less valid.

An expert read articles in his area of expertise and found them to be rubbish. Thus his anecdotal evidence is that the reporters get it wrong and so he shouldn't be so willing to accept as correct articles in areas outside of his expertise. If newspapers get it wrong in areas you know about then why should one think they get it right in areas you don't know about?

> he shouldn't be so willing to accept as correct articles in areas outside of his expertise

Let me refocus that to highlight the silliness:

> If doctors get it wrong in areas you know about then why should one think they get it right in areas you don't know about?

If my doctor knows not even the slightest tiniest thing about computers, the internet, etc., I'm still going to trust him on medicinal matters.

Reporters are not experts in the areas they report on. If reporters generally get it wrong on the areas that I know about then why would I assume they get right on the other areas they write about?

If your doctor wrote articles about computers and got it wrong would you be willing to trust him/her on articles about Syria? Tax policy? Politics? You would trust your doctor in the area of his/her expertise and not necessarily about other areas.

> Reporters are not experts in the areas they report on.

Some are. Some aren't. But if you're not an expert in the same area, how can you judge?

(eg. "MD" in Private Eye is a doctor and therefore reasonably qualified to report on medical things.)

Because it's lazy to just assume newspapers are always wrong about everything. If we don't assume newspapers are always wrong about everything, we can assume they are sometimes wrong about some things and sometimes right about other things. That makes reading the news a fact finding mission. Discerning the truth from fiction is just part of life.

The point isn’t that one should assume they are always wrong it is that one shouldn’t assume they are always right.

You started this thread with a claim of "I don't think any of the popular sources of information are trustworthy." That seems to be a position of default assuming they are wrong.

Saying that something is not trustworthy is literally saying it is not something that is able to be relied upon to be truthful. This means one should not assume the source is correct. It certainly doesn't mean to assume it is wrong.

Because topic areas are in no way equivalent. My expertise is specific and not of broad public interest. But tax policy, for example, absolutely is of public interest. And news organisations have been covering for years. Individual journalists have been covering it for years and are as much experts as anyone out there.

Let’s take Syria for example. Do you think the reporters reporting on Syria and the complexity of what is going on there are experts in foreign policy? I don’t. I don’t think government affairs reporters are experts on tax policy either. I think they interview people and create a narrative and write said narrative. They are not usually experts on what they write about. They are writers crafting a story for an audience. I generally think they try their best but they get it wrong due to pressures of the job and limited time/ability to vet things. Especially these days with dwindling budgets for news organizations.

The solution to biased or inaccurate sources isn't to consume no sources. It's to consume more than one source, preferably many. When you see the same story reported in 6 different ways, you start to notice patterns. You see that certain sources leave out crucial information, while others focus on those. You see headlines written in salacious forms, and sometimes you see a headline change during the course of the day because, perhaps the original one wasn't generating enough clicks. For a critical reader, these clues help to make one more critical, not less, no matter how biased the source.

Human memory is really bad at these kinds of subtle differences. You are just as likely to recall what seemed at the time obviously false information. This is why “stay on message” is the fallback plan when peddling bullshit, it works.

In the end you are much better off avoiding highly biased sources than trying to use them. This might change if you are doing a dissertation or something, but not for day to day stuff.

I made a point to say biased because I believe everything has a bias. There is no such thing as bias free, and any source that tries to claim no bias is trying to trick you. I personally avoid "ertremely biased" entirely; you only go to places like Brietbart if you only want to buy what they are selling. But the fact remains I can go to any story there and point out the flaws because I have a whole universe of other facts to work with.

Each source writes its own take, but what if the truth is Option Three, which none of the biased articles support?

It's incumbent upon the reader to consider all options. This includes the options presented, and options omitted. Recognizing when options are omitted and why is a great way to find the truth. This is where critical reading comes in.

I don't read news, don't use social media. I find it working fine. Although hacker news kind of works like a news source to me.

I find almost everything in news noise now. Don't following any of that on purpose makes me feel calm.

Now if there is something that I should really know, it comes to me. I meet people all the time and then they tell me if something important is going on. I don't have to go after news. I adopted this after going through all the political bs in last few years. It works like a filter and I enjoy it.

This quote from Thomas Jefferson seems relevant:

"I have given up newspapers in exchange for Tacitus & Thucydides, for Newton & Euclid; & I find myself much the happier." [0]

[0] http://tjrs.monticello.org/letter/280

Jefferson was 80 when he wrote that, so the context is a little different than what people are discussing here.

this is a fundamentally conservative to the point of bordering on reactionary practice. you have the privilege of not reading the news presumably because you're not a government worker so the shutdown didn't matter to you, and/or you're not a recipient of various aid programs so their cuts don't matter to you, etc etc. checking out is a luxury only the well off can afford.

"X is only available to you as a result of privilege" seems like a very weak argument not to do X. I cook most of my food at home, which is really only an option available to me because I have the privilege of being able to afford a flat with a kitchen and a short commute to work. It is still a good idea for me to do so. I go to the gym most days, which requires a monthly payment of money -- but it is still a good idea for my focus and mental health.

I agree but it also makes the original hypothesis a lot weaker as well.

"If you're reasonably affluent, straight, white, cisgender, male or a sufficient subset thereof you should unburden yourself from having to keeping up with the news secure that your interests are well protected."

For me it's less about being informed and more that I have to keep up with the news on certain topics/issues because I have to actually do things in response to the news or my life will get worse. It's not like I, or I think anyone, wants to have to read the news.

I used to keep up with it out of an unspecified sense of civic duty. But this didn’t result in any sort of action—-indeed the distraction and hours of time lost scrolling resulted in me not fulfilling my responsibilities to those close to me.

> I have to do things in response to the news

I would like to know what this consists of.

Is this in terms of needing to protest against things? Needing to switch suppliers of medications?

The gist of his main point is still correct. If you focus on your atomistic individual interests you'll probably be ignoramt of the status and developments of persons in your community but not in your daily life, and so change is resisted; problems caused by incumbents grow.


Well I feel that following news for the sake of... following news ? is also very ignorant. Like people getting angry at stuff that they don't fully understand, is that reasonable ?

>but then you have the no right to complain when laws are passed that don't align to your values.

Who says that ever happens ?

How about following news in order to be an informed citizen, who makes informed choices about how to vote, what to protest and what to support?

I don't practice any of those, because repeating what media told you about issues which context you have no idea about doesn't exactly sound enlightened to me. I've seen it happen about issues in my small area of expertise, I can only guess how desperate experts of discussed issues must be.

There is no single entity of "the media" though. The whole point the OP was making was that you should seek our a variety of news sources and evaluate them. Would you say "repeating what reviews have told you about a product you're thinking of buying doesn't sound enlightened to me"?

The idea that everything you read in the news is garbage because they don't have a solid grasp on the strange esoterica we work in simply doesn't make any sense. There's no reason why any news organisation would be equally informed on every topic. So yeah, if I read an article in the Washington Post comparing relational databases I'd be suspicious. But if I read an article about tax policy, written by a journalist who has spent years studying the area, what on earth would it have to do with my database experience?

There's a difference between reading unbiased news from reputable sources for the facts, and getting takes on news from talking heads.

Why one has to be an informed citizen? Why one has to vote? Why one has to always protest? Why one has to always support something?

> We’re afraid to ask ourselves deep and meaningful questions.

Noise and news are an incentive for people to play this left-right, right-wrong game you described in your comment.

> Why one has to be an informed citizen? Why one has to vote?

It's in your own interest to do so. How much do you pay in tax? Do you think that's right? What about public services? How are the roads around you? Your trash pickup? These are all things managed by elected officials. If you care about any of them it's in your interests to vote.

The answer to all the above questions is: is in the interest of the elected officials.

What does that mean?

> Why one has to be an informed citizen? Why one has to vote? Why one has to always protest? Why one has to always support something?

Is not in your interest. Is in the interest of the elected officials. They get to you through the news and social media (by sharing). In simple words: they don't give a F about you, the taxes or the roads.

They give a fuck about your vote, though. It your vote is informed (as well as the vote of a significant chunk of the informed population), you can bet your ass they'll wonder pretty hard what happened when your vote goes elsewhere.

They give an F about being re-elected though, which you have control over.

> following news for the sake of... following news

That's not what they are asking or claiming.

> Don't read that then. Read sources you believe are important to you and deliver information that is important.

Yes, but also make an offer to read sources that provide a different point of view from your own. There should be smart people who you disagree with. Find those people.

> But rejecting information from the media is a concession to power.

Mainstream news is not information, it's entertainment. The sooner your realize it the better.

Journalists have nor the time, nor the expertise or the means to write a purely accurate objective articles (that nobody wants to read because it's purely informational). I cannot count the times I read articles about my field of expertise, that are laughably inaccurate or pain false.

Journalists crunch out quick stories that are exaggerated or come from one angle, so that people would read it after seeing the headline, and get agitated enough to share it. Remark that this is not the fault of the journalists, but just how that whole system works.

You should read "Trust Me, I'm Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator" by Ryan Holiday, and see how fragile that whole system is. And because of its fragility, can be easily manipulated on top of it.

If you want to get informed, either read books written by experts (like suggested), read the original scientific paper and draw your own conclusions, or stay ahead of your game by getting news from sources other than media. That last part will show you that by the time it's covered by main stream news, it's already old news (think bitcoin etc.)

When I read something, first thing I check is "who is this person?". If it's an expert on the subject, or has his own experience and tells the story, I'm happy to read it. If it's a journalist that is crunching out stories every week, I skip it.

> Mainstream news is not information, it's entertainment. The sooner your realize it the better.

This is, and always has been, an utterly dumb argument that only persists because it sounds clever. Mainstream news informs people about what is going on in the world around them. What their elected representatives are doing. What the weather is doing (an underrated one, in terms of every day utility, especially in hurricane season).

The mainstream TV news also happens to wrap this information up in a package fronted by two or more telegenic presenters, and often finishes off with a nice feel good story. That doesn't diminish the information being conveyed. Perhaps the world would be better informed if everyone set aside two hours a day to read academic journals, but that's never going to happen.

> What the weather is doing

The weather is indeed informative, but if you look at video's where the reporter has a hard time standing against the wind of a hurricane, and people behind him just walk around like normal, you definitely get the "entertainment" value. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pyZdDQY37Sg

> What their elected representatives are doing.

I'm not that familiar with US, but in Belgium, the politicians who do proper work, hardly make it to the news. Most of the time, it's politicians making bold or crazy statements, saying something controversial etc. Reporters are also known to lean towards the political left, so a lot comes through from a certain standpoint and not really objective, like it should be.

I'll leave you with video of a Belgian news photographer that shows how easy it is to let his picture depict anything he wants. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wmbsXussxUc. In his own words: "It's dangerous, the media"

I don't get my information from news outlets, and there is not much that can convince me otherwise.

> Mainstream news is not information, it's entertainment. The sooner your realize it the better.

A gross generalization. I've been in the biggest newsrooms in the country, seen the autonomy of editorial up front and personal.

You're conflating the bad with the good. You're not alone.

>> Being well informed isn’t regurgitating the opinion of some twenty-two-year-old with no life experience telling me what to think or how outraged to be.

> This isn't news, it's opinion. Don't read this.

Sometimes this is harder than you think, even with popular news sources. I subscribe to the NY Times, but if I go by notifications on my phone for the "popular" stories, many of them are opinion pieces. In fact, I'm looking right now at "Most Popular" in my NYTimes app and I'm seeing multiple "opinion" pieces in that list (actually 5 of the top 10) and only after you click into them do you know that they aren't hard news.

>>Read fewer articles and more books.

This is a weird argument.

His point is news is a stupid fodder to feed your mind with and its better to get indulged with books like literature, biographies, self help books et al.

You can be informed without following news. Often reading books/articles produced some time after an event gives a more nuanced and in-depth analysis.

>some time after an event

Or before. I learnt more about 21st C USA by reading Tocqueville's Democracy in America (1835) than anything written since.

I don't disagree, but the time that passes limits your ability to respond in the present.

Don't eschew current news because it's slight, because it's invite, because it's simplistic in form. That's the point.

>I don't disagree, but the time that passes limits your ability to respond in the present.

What examples are there of any meaningful "responding in the present" that happened because of news (as opposed because of directly suffering some oppression on yourself)?

> What examples are there of any meaningful "responding in the present"

Protest marches? Strikes? You could even include terrorism if you wanted.

Pending legislation? Environmental, economic peril?

Our ability to react to news is often personal, but it can operate on a macro level as well.

I agree. I am currently reading the classic "Manufacturing Consent" and I find it a great critique of the mainstream media in such a way that can be emulated on a personal level.

I like that it shows how to be critical of mainstream media while consuming it and without needing to adopt a pseudo-conspiracy "alternative fact" mindset.

Well said. Exactly what I thought but more eloquent than I'd have responded.

You seem to mean well, but your post is also a recipie for creating a personal bubble, no matter how well spoken.

News literacy is a critical problem today, moreso than ever before.

It may seem as though I glossed over that, but my larger point is people need to understand what news is and means first.

A bubble is inevitable in either event, finite time ensures that.

It's not clear to me that living in a personal bubble should be seen as derogatory. Since there's more media than any of us can consume, and none of us surf randomly over all of it, we all live in such a bubble. To acknowledge that is a start on improving its quality. For instance we can steel-man our bubbles by consciously including the highest quality perspectives from the tribes we oppose.

We can think of that in terms of know-your-enemy, but often the effect of hearing from the best of those enemies is to find the ways in which they are either allies, or at least to learn to empathize with their positions. If we had no bubble, and just took in the loudest most amplified opinions at random, we'd be more likely to inaccurately conclude that those positions had no steel-man positions to learn from. So a well curated bubble is better than the illusion of none at all.

The "bubble" expression I've only ever encountered used by people from a rightish perspective to complain that other people aren't listening to them and that their perspective isn't the completely dominant one. Whereas people of the opposite view always know what the opposing view is - it gets shouted at them a lot - they just don't agree with it.

Anti-vaxers and flat-earthers might be called "bubbles", but then so is the pro-vax round-world view. After all, if you only ever read round-world media, aren't you closing your mind to alternative facts? /s

>The "bubble" expression I've only ever encountered used by people from a rightish perspective

That's perhaps because you live in a bubble.

I've read enough flat Earth stuff to safely say I can reject it on its merits. Anti vax got started as a response to a series of industrial accidents that weren't handled right by the business side, but industrial accidents are rare so I think that's not sufficient reason to abandon vaccines entirely.

The only people you hear complain about bubbles are the people that are marginalized, if you agree with the bubble you will love every second of it and hate everyone outside. So, watch out before you speak in support of your bubble, that probably just means you are in the center.

Thank you.

News media does not inform, it purposefully misinforms. You are being shaped by the media. You are the malleable one.

The line between opinion and actual reporting is gone. It no longer exists. All reporting is activism.

Read books to be informed. Specifically the books that have stood the test of time and shaped history.

Our media is owned by the most powerful people in the world. You are conceding your most critical faculties, the power to think for yourself, to the most powerful people in the world.

And they've gaslit you into believing that the exact opposite is true.

I love this caricature of the media. It's become very pervasive of late.

I went to journalism school. I've worked in news rooms - from small to the world's largest and prestigious. What you describe is fantasy.

In good news organizations the editorial side has autonomy by design. The corporate part is intentionally insulated away from the news producing side.

I've seen fights between publishers and ad directors over content. It doesn't happen often but those conflicts are real.

I've never seen editorial lose.

It doesn't matter how it is done, just that it is done. You can't extract bias only from how the news is created; one must merely read the news to detect bias. Even the NYT news section is littered with activism and bias. Which isn't to the mention the total lack of clarity between what is and is not opinion in the vast majority of papers.

Media-types live in an echo chamber that distorts their reality. Over time, the echos grow stronger and stronger, but those in the media still believe them; while those outside of the media see an ever escalating cacophony of noise.

Although not directly mentioning it, the post seems to imply that things were better in the past. I like this 2013 article from the Guardian better because it goes deeper into fundamental issues with news, independent from the "internet age".


Key points for me:

News has no explanatory power. News items are bubbles popping on the surface of a deeper world. Will accumulating facts help you understand the world? Sadly, no. The relationship is inverted. The important stories are non-stories: slow, powerful movements that develop below journalists' radar but have a transforming effect.


Society needs journalism – but in a different way. Investigative journalism is always relevant. We need reporting that polices our institutions and uncovers truth. But important findings don't have to arrive in the form of news.

I stopped reading news around 2011, while I was working at a big news site, within a building complex of about half a dozen more publications including online, print, paid, free, weekly and daily. Seeing how the sausage is made has overall increased my respect for journalists, but decreased the one for the process of publication and the business behind it. It easy to blame corporate overloads, but the pressure for almost real time news comes in part from the readers.

At first I sought to solve the potential problem of being uninformed of not reading news technically. Thinking about building an aggregator with a more objective way to judge news-worthiness and relevancy than the existing ones and news sites. But then I realized there is already a good enough solution in place: If something is important for me to care about, it will eventually reach me in some way or another trough social interactions (mostly offline since i don't use social media much). And because of the delay of information getting to me, I'm way more likely to get actual useful insights when I then dig deeper than when trying to keep up with everything live.

If you didn't read anything about the Panama papers or pfas, etc.. how will you know who to vote for in the next primaries and elections? Or will you vote how you did the last time?

There is an amazing book written in 1925: A Heaf of a Dog by Mikhail Bulgakov. And there is just as an amazing movie based on it. There is an exchange about not reading soviet newspapers if one cares about digestion.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aOE_3_Ws4y0&feature=youtu.be... (English subtitles are available).

A surprising percentage of what is up as news is placement. You'll see an interesting article about the Boer War, then a couple of days later you'll see another, which is a bit strange, and then a couple of days later you'll see an ad for a movie with a couple of big name stars that is set in the Boer War. Then you realize that you've been tricked into an ad campaign. That's discouraging.

What's discouraging me more is that people that do this find it harmless. It says a lot about the state of our society: we still think a little bit of bad is ok, forgetting what happens when everybody is doing it.

More likely: "Hey journalist #213, there is this movie coming out about the boer war and it should be a hit. Why don't you and #214 and #215 get together in the conference room and research and write some articles about it. People will probably read it." "sure thing, chief."

repeat each publisher.

What is more parsimonious, someone writing context pieces for ad views ahead of a known impending cultural event, or some big bad advertising conspiracy trying to inception you into watching a movie about the boer war.

As an uneducated ignoramus, I'm somewhat ashamed to admit I only recently discovered JSTOR Daily (https://daily.jstor.org/). Marrying current events / open policy debates / political trends to hard research is really doing it for me lately.

Surface level "on the ground" reporting of who farted 15 seconds ago in the White House has its use, certainly. But I much prefer to read a thoughtful piece on the frequency at which people have historically farted in the White House. That way I can contrast it with the behaviors of the current ruling party. It can also be supplemented with analysis into how society's view on White House farts has evolved in tandem with the so-and-so Revolution or the such-and-such cultural shift. All of this being sourced from research steeped in hard evidence.

Aside from JSTOR Daily, what other recommendations can people provide for this kind of quality journalism?

As far as TV goes, I made a choice about a year and a half ago to stop viewing any news on TV and haven't looked back. I like to think I'm informed, I will read certain things, or pursue things I think necessary or interesting, but I have abandoned all the nonsense on TV.

If I just want to catch up, there're River5[1] and NewsBoat[2], or build-your-own-aggregator apps. The latter is a console app with a UI like Vim's; I like its fast filtering with '/'. The downside of apps is there's no grooming in comments.

[1] https://github.com/scripting/river5 [2] https://github.com/newsboat/newsboat

A neat way of getting a high-level view of current events (news) is the wikipedia page. The headlines here change much less frequently that most news-outlets.


It's also more of a log of what's happened instead of political headlines.

Takeaway line from this article (for me): "The only thing it’s really doing is altering your mood and perhaps your behavior."

This Freakanomics episode is what got me thinking about this: "Why do we really follow the news" (http://freakonomics.com/podcast/why-do-we-really-follow-the-...).

Part of me feels kind of bad about this when I think about it too much, but I have substantially improved my well-being by drastically cutting down my news consumption. It's not about time management per se, but so much of the news either makes me feel sad or angry.

On the other hand, what news I do consume these days, I do consume more deliberately.

If you don't read the news then how are you supposed to make a judgement about who to vote for or understand current trends or be alerted to issues with products recalls or where the great bargins are?

I stopped reading newspapers very a long time ago too, haven't watched TV in several years, and because of this i miss out on most of the above.

https://www.allsides.com is a good news site to get news concerning America from more than just one (presumably biased) side. It is interesting to see how various news sources spin news using catchy titles pandering to different types of folks.

>The point is, most of what you read online today is pointless. It’s not important to your life. It’s not going to help you make better decisions. It’s not going to help you understand the world.

That's an awfully privileged position to take. I'm going to guess the author isn't likely to have their status as a person invalidated, their religion declared illegal, or their citizenship revoked any time soon. I'm going to guess he's of a race that isn't likely to be a target of a government endorsed hate crime.


I purposefully wrote that paragraph before I looked up the author:

>Shane Parrish has become an unlikely guru for Wall Street. His self-improvement strategies appeal to his overachieving audience in elite finance, Silicon Valley and professional sports.

When a member of an elite class gives you advice, consider if the advice is truly in your best interest, or if it serves to cement their elite status in society. The elites benefit from keeping "the proles" in the dark.

As a member of the elite, trying to sell to other elites, Shane represents the ultimate in privilege: the type of person who is going to be just fine no matter what the government or any company decides to do. Some of us aren't so lucky.

teletext for me provides the most informative news per byte. For the Dutch 'teletekst' I use nostt on the terminal (or with geektool on the mac desktop).

https://github.com/sjmulder/nostt https://github.com/zevv/termtekst https://twitter.com/Teletekst https://nos.nl/teletekst#101

Listening to the radio news once a day works as well (5 minutes or so). I would like to have a podcast feed for that!

It has been a couple of years that I only read news after having my lunch.

My only rule is to not start and finish my day with news. I do it right after lunch because I'm still distracted.

Totally Agree. I think everyone should go through a 6-12 month period of not reading newspapers and see how you feel. I did that and I felt much happier, and more knowledgeable (instead reading science,math, literature).

The problem with newspapers (even high brow newspapers) is that they encourage negative emotions (anger, fear, envy), are irritatingly political / full of identity politics or are full of repetitive facts (another uniformed brexit article etc.) or plain old hot air gossip.

Instead of daily newspapers take a long term view and look at the news once every quarter or two from a quality publication such as the Economist/ financial times etc.

Newspapers are bunk

Not reading news is like constantly taking painkillers. Yes you don't feel the pain but the problems remain.

Reading news more often than once a day is masochism.

Bloomberg terminal is $24K/yr.

Mainstream news is practically given away. The hidden cost--whatever that may or may not be--I leave to the philosophers.

Doesn't most/all news on Bloomberg Terminal make it to the public sites, with some delay? The cost of the terminal includes expensive hardware, high quality support, multi-language API bindings, etc.

c.f. https://www.quora.com/What-is-so-special-about-the-Bloomberg...

If you want to reduce hn time, visit 8hrs.xyz

I can't wait for the day that we have AI that can tell whether the user really wants to know X.

Ugh, why can't rational people see how this is an instance of "black and white thinking" cognitive distortions?

Life isn't a binary black and white, as much as software engineers would like it to be. One side says "don't ever read the news, it causes negative moods" and the another side says "you should always read the news to keep up to date with the world".

The proper way to approach the issue is to strike a balance between consumption of news or not. The aim is moderation of information and distraction, while still keeping touch with the world.

Agreed. The whole point of news providers should be that they're filtering the "new" information down to what's actually important. But because of the engagement economy we've built, the goal is instead to make EVERYTHING sounds like critical breaking news, even when it's not.

I really hope there is some kind of replacement for the 24 hour news cycle, because otherwise society will continue to polarize.

I'm not sure that a balance is generally possible without paying significant sums.

On the rare occasions that I do read news articles I find them shallow, meandering and less informative than they should be.

I used to read The Economist and found their reports useful. But that comes at a considerable cost. So the easier option is to just forgo news altogether.

'Over-compensate to compensate'. To make a change, you have to be extreme.


“To read a newspaper is to refrain from reading something worthwhile. [....] The first discipline of education must therefore be to refuse resolutely to feed the mind with canned chatter.”

― Aleister Crowley

That comes as an explanation of the previous statements:

"Good God," I said to myself, "and this is merely New York! What must Mexico be like!" I supposed that I was experiencing normal conditions, whereas in point of fact I had landed at the climax of a heat wave which killed about a hundred people a day while it lasted. I should have discovered the truth if I had looked at a newspaper; but I did not read them.

In any case, that principle means we should probably refrain from reading HN too.

Interesting quote coming from him

I heard a very interesting talk on Crowley by Robert Anton Wilson once. Crowley did have some rather far-out ideas. Also, I seem to recall him being in cahoots with the British Intelligence services at the time.


I try not to read such self-help/life advice articles, which are just as bad as news. Why are they so popular on HN?

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