Just over 10 years ago, I conducted an experiment. I watched an hour of CNN every night but it was never that night's coverage. It was from exactly two weeks ago.
It was amazing how much "breaking news!" was irrelevant or just outright wrong, how many large trend predictions were wrong, and how many "[person] will do X" were wrong. While the predictions could have been portrayed as opinions, they were presented as facts and the obvious next steps or conclusions.
I realized pretty quickly that avoiding CNN kept out the blatantly wrong information so even if I didn't replace it with anything, I was net ahead.
A few years ago, I discovered this article and realized that some portion of it was probably on purpose:
I just couldn't tell when the actual show is on. The shows, the news, the ads, and whatever else there was, they all had the same "air". The same kind of music, the same kind of cadence, the same kind of tone, the same kind of fake laugh.
TV is pretty shit everywhere; but I can't understand it in US.
Confusingly, some of the greatest TV shows are US shows. But I have to watch them on Netflix/DVD, because the actual TV breaks apart the show into tiny pieces that take away the enjoyment entirely.
I consider myself lucky that I never get sucked into the habit of watching TV.
Nowadays I can't even watch swedish TV. I can't stand the ads.
A friend used to stream basketball games live, and when I watched every ad break had an ad for a (prescription?) drug.
It felt like something I'd see in a movie/TV show mocking TV ads. A parody, like you said.
I think it has to do with the fact that the only people left watching TV (As in cable), mostly just want noise and bright colors, while people watching TV (As in shows) have moved on to Netflix/Prime/Piracy.
What the other poster suggested is something I also highly recommend - read old news, and see how many of the stories the news media was obsessed with and treated as a huge deal turned out to be nothing in the end. Putting a custom time range in searches is a great way to do this. Often there's little to no followup to stories, or new narratives get created that completely rewrite what happened. News junkies get left with a highly skewed version of reality.
As a dedicated listener to NPR, here's my advice:
- The 6 minutes of headline news at the top of every hour covers all you might need to know.
- The more reporting-style programs (All Things Considered, Morning Edition) often have good interviews with figures directly involved in the news. Of course, these are only worthwhile if the person hasn't already been on a national platform. Politicians and lawyers will just pretend to answer questions as they read prepared statements.
- Everything else is entertainment.
I like it, but I'm not deluded enough to look down on anyone (e.g. my wife) who finds it boring.
Standard low minded stuff.
I tune in for some gossip from time to time, no harm no foul. But jesus, do it all the time and you might as well become this:
In other words: mass media is one big superfund site.
I don’t know, it’s all very odd given that big tech is banning misinformation now days, but big media has no such imperative. They will run with the most unsubstantiated stuff for however long it’s profitable (Russia-gate). Their modus operandi in terms of carving out markets is to do the opposite of another network/publication and claim that territory as their feeding ground. How do you even begin to treat waters like this?
Kind of shows who is really powerful, Qanon or the rampant proliferation of party talking points. One of those is a legit 4chan meme, so do the math.
The big focus on the 'head only' now on CNN, because that's more engaging - personalities who are almost always 7.5/10 - i.e. nice to look at but not ultra-attractive, the ability to appear 'just credible enough in tone and disposition and yet also empathetic' - that posture is important. And then background, the overlays - it's designed like the environment in Vegas.
Go to CNN.com right now and let the ad for Cuomo's show run - listen to the words he is using, listen to the music, the specific text that they overlay. They are communicating "It's panic time in America, is your heart racing? Because this is so important, and we have the 'Truth' for you here, tune in at 8pm".
These are all generally intelligent, well intentioned people, but the ultra focus on eyeballs and attention really hurts credibility.
During an election cycle it gets much worse, it's almost impossible to watch any cable news outlet right now.
The main loss from all this is not wasted time but that serious issues receive less discussion in favor of what's happening right now and what it could possibly mean.
I'd say I have been insulated from the depressiveness of it all ever since but also that I've lost the ability to meaningfully participate or contribute to socio/economical/political discussions that seem to dominate any gathering of modest size .
 This quote particularly hits home: The worst illiterate is the political illiterate, he doesn’t hear, doesn’t speak, nor participates in the political events. He doesn’t know the cost of life, the price of the bean, of the fish, of the flour, of the rent, of the shoes and of the medicine, all depends on political decisions. The political illiterate is so stupid that he is proud and swells his chest saying that he hates politics. The imbecile doesn’t know that, from his political ignorance is born the prostitute, the abandoned child, and the worst thieves of all, the bad politician, corrupted and flunky of the national and multinational companies. --Bretolt Brecht (https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/541442-the-worst-illiterate...)
In practice many people who "hate politics" are, I think, at least partially motivated by not desiring to get into conversations with people who would call them "illiterate" and "imbecile" for, yanno, not supporting evil authoritarianism and the nonsense pseudophilosophy that motivates it.
I think many people would not "hate politics" were it not for the nature of the politically-motivated to look down on those who disagree.
Will the literate know? It seems similar to a sports fan saying what the coach should do. They absolutely know that if they'd just do X, they'd win. I have zero knowledge about professional sports. My guess is that neither I nor that kind of fan actually do know how to coach a professional sports team.
I believe it's similar in politics. If you don't become a subject matter expert -and I don't mean "politics expert", I mean a tiny field and literally expert, like seasonal effects on labor requirements in some specialized industry- you don't know how to fix "it" whether you watch 0 or 10 hours of news a week.
"That's easy, just do X" is usually something non-experts say, me included in things that I know nothing about. I like to look into some of those things and usually learn that it's not as simple as a cursory glance makes it look. That's also why most people shouldn't be day traders.
..."tacit" meaning that Brecht never actually said it. An ad hominem argument addresses the person and not their claims....
You could also be politically literate, but completely blind or apathetic to the realities of other people.
If politics is manufactured outrage and pandering to the lowest common denominator, and ethics is the study of universal moral invariants, those core values that should always apply when making decisions... I'd say screw political engagement.
> If politics is manufactured outrage
But it's not; politics is everything concerning government.
Manufactured outrage is a common tool for manipulating the politically illiterate.
Personally I believe this should be the bare minimum of democratic involvement. Voting is important, but you can do more than just that if you do decide you care about something -- contact representatives, attend local hearings or meetings, start petitions, etc.
This view of news consumption (i.e. don't bother) works when you only engage with your government via the ballot.
I also try not to read sensationalist news that is unlikely to move the needle on how I feel about something (e.g. the 9000th variation on "Trump said X")
I'd love a news source that gives me relevant information at lower frequency and, water reading your description, with some delay. Maybe every two weeks and the content covers two weeks with a two week delay. So the oldest news would be over month old when I get it.
Years ago someone on the a16z podcast claimed that more frequent news is more negative in its content than less frequent news. They proposed the thought experiment of a newspaper that only gets published ones a century. Yes you'd cover the world wars, but a lot of space would go to incredible medical discoveries, human rights advancements, improved living conditions for the vast majority of people, fewer famines, etc.
Reading a higher frequency publication with a delay will reveal how much ambiguity there really was.
1. Read the headline.
2. Ask - Is the topic likely to be relevant after 2-3 weeks?
3. If yes - Read/Watch it.
4. If no - Ignore.
This is some very fancy footwork to leave out some key information. The study found that those watching only Fox News and MSNBC answered worse than people who watch no news programs at all. As far as I can tell, this latter group doesn't exclude people who read newspapers, blogs, political websites, etc. Meanwhile, all of the viewers of other programs/networks (NPR, Daily Show, CNN, etc.) score higher than average, so saying "often less knowledgable" kind of buries the lede if you ask me, which is that some "partisan" viewers are in fact, much more informed than others. Also, since the quiz the survey participants answered was split into domestic and international topics, FOX is the only network whose viewers consistently failed both on exceeding the average number of correct questions than achieved by "no news" viewers—MSNBC at least seems to be informing their viewers on domestic issues better than that baseline.
I read Ann Landers and the comics
And know as much as the people of the left and the right
Some days it feels that way, even with things as urgent as they seem today in the US.
The difference is only about 5% to the "no news" crowd. Also, people that are better-educated tend to lean liberal and therefore might prefer to consume liberal outlets, but that doesn't mean liberal outlets are better at informing people. Looking at the frontpage of MSNBC, it's almost exclusively political opinion pieces centered around the US.
Moreover, the key question is not whether you're being informed better by consuming this media, but whether it is worth risking some of your well-being by consuming it. Research has found that media that is upsetting is the most addictive. People with addictions make up all kinds of rationalizations on how their addiction has upsides. The idea that you've been wasting time consuming ultimately useless information that irritates you - it's not very attractive.
Do you have a source on this?
Do you have any source for tjat research? (Not doubting you, just curious.)
Then you can fill in the blanks faster and don't need quite as much spoon feeding
better educated, or indoctrinated?
Instead I use Wikipedia once a month : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portal:Current_events/Septembe...
Sites from local TV news groups seem to be the most dispassionate reporting these days.
Really? Our local TV news websites are:
1) absolutely terrible user experiences -- like, so many ads that the scrolling lags on my 16 inch MBP.
2) clearly just reposting whatever their parent networks feed them for everything except local news (so, Fox and NBC, the two mentioned in this article, are literally feeding lines to these "local" channels that are ostensibly totally different from their parent networks)
IMO: the death of local newspapers is a problem but the death of local TV news can't happen fast enough.
I don’t know what happened to CNN. Seems they have decided to become the left wing FoxNews.
I've given money to the campaigns that are going to get money from me. I voted yesterday (which answered the question, "are we going to get our mail-in ballots on time?"). I'm done.
As a consequence I'm getting more done and I'm happier. I'm reading a lot more books.
The other plus side to this is that the whiplash of rapidly developing news is never an issue. Previously the news headlines would speculate on new developments so frequently that you felt like you were always behind on what was current, but truthfully most news can wait 24 hours (and if it can't it's probably an emergency).
Anecdotally, I do feel happier. I’ve also poured the time I previously spent on news consumption into studying and making music, and it’s just generally a more positive mental environment for me.
I may decide to switch to a less in-the-moment mode of news consumption, such as getting an Economist subscription and only reading the paper magazine when it arrives. Or maybe the NYT Saturday paper only, or something. I feel a duty to be an informed citizen but the ceaseless noise and sense of angry powerlessness doesn’t make me feel happy or satisfied.
I wanted to still read something current so I subscribed to the New Yorker and love their long articles.
> The research doesn’t reveal precisely why we tend to dislike overly political people, but it doesn’t take too much imagination to guess that constant foam-flecked political outrage makes one quite tedious. It also impedes our ability to think clearly: At least one experiment has shown that people become less accurate in interpreting data when the data concern something politically polarizing.
We are manipulated into constant outrage for someone else's profit.
So yea, emotions are running a little high right now.
I think Trump is a terrible, terrible President, causing a tonne of damage to America, but he’s not exactly Hitler, more of a poor man’s Putin. I’m all for having political conversations, even reasonably frequent ones, but barring a legitimate Hitler situation, I don’t want it to be the ONLY thing I talk about. There’s a lot more to life. Some members of my friends/family can talk about nothing else anymore, it’s nonstop outrage, and they completely ignore all social queues from people who want to change the subject. These people suck to be around. The article sums it up well:
> it doesn’t take too much imagination to guess that constant foam-flecked political outrage makes one quite tedious
He told me that several years ago watching the news made him physically ill and his GP told him to avoid news. His health improved. In 2016 he admitted to me he does not watch any news, read any news, but he believes in voting. I asked him how he could vote if he hasn't educated himself on the candidates. How a person like me who thinks you either eat politics or it eats you, sees an uninformed voter, proudly ignorant of the candidates, but voting with his gut, what am I supposed to say? This deeply offended him. He then accused me of living in a bubble despite the fact I read news from all over and he reads none.
I asked him how should educated voters feel about gut-feeling voters with uneducated opinions? I think his response was "Fuck off". We do not talk anymore because any subject he brought up that had any hint of politics to it was an empty conversation. I would bring up things related to the subject and he would default to making jokes. Serious conversation was beyond him.
Tone deaf, dumb, and blind. He eventually said he found all women of my wife's race "unattractive" and then could not understand why I was upset at him. Ex-Navy man, ex-Nuclear Engineer, ex-friend.
Some news sources, even "mainstream" ones, are so hopelessly biased that I think they're less informative than consuming candidate propaganda.
I am pretty well informed politically and follow the news regularly, however, I still vote for the same party I voted for thirty years ago and always have done.
Knowing what is happening in the news has rarely changed my vote - pretty much whatever happens the parties are not going to substantially change relative to each other to the point where you would prefer a different party so following the news or not doesn’t really make a difference.
You may be in a bubble by thinking this is important when it really doesn’t matter as much as your bubble is telling you it does
> This deeply offended him. He then accused ...
> I think his response was "Fuck off"
Unfortunately I've seen been in such situations. I've politely asked to act in good faith of each other or close the topic. Some people feel better after arguing, I don't.
> so I kept politics out of our conversations...
I do not watch news for 20 years. I am fine if someone thinks I'm ignorant but ready to discuss that. Some people look brainwashed, aggressive, they don't answer uneasy question, they attack instead. Yes, OP provoked, I do not recommend this way. But response depends on the person and that was my message.
I mean sometimes I argue with friends for fun. And we know how to stop while it is fun. Persuasion is not fun.
>Just because one has the right to vote does not mean just any vote is right. Citizens should not vote badly. This duty to avoid voting badly is grounded in a general duty not to engage in collectively harmful activities when the personal cost of restraint is low. Good governance is a public good. Bad governance is a public bad. We should not be contributing to public bads when the benefit to ourselves is low. Many democratic theorists agree that we shouldn’t vote badly, but that’s because they think we should vote well. This demands too much of citizens.
>Most voters have no idea what is going on–they may not even know who their leaders are, and certainly do not know who is the best candidate. Imagine that someone asks you for directions to a local restaurant. If you have no idea where the restaurant is, you should not make it up. You should not tell the person some guess that seems sort of plausible to you. You should tell them you don’t know and let them get directions from someone more knowledgeable.
>Ignorant voting is even worse than ignorant giving of directions, because voting is an exercise of political power (albeit a very small one)–to vote for a policy is not only to make a recommendation, but to request that the policy be imposed on others by force.
[Polluting the Polls: When Citizens Should Not Vote](https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/0004840080258730...
Obviously, I am not aware of the full context of the conversation you had or even his tone and this could make a huge difference.
But I have to note that he did not call a whole race "stupid" or "lazy" or anything else objectively racist. He just expressed a sexual preference. What is wrong with that? If your wife was red-haired and he had said that he found red-hair unattractive, would it be offensive?
It is not racist though.
> He then accused me of living in a bubble
This kind of tu quoque thing happens a lot when people get defensive. Accusing you of the thing they know they're in the wrong over.
Views aside, getting a single bolus of well-considered, well-written news once a week is wonderful.
You “miss out” on the “did you hear what X said” water cooler talk, but the gains in understanding and attention are significant
Having said that - I see many tech people complain about pay walls even though many of us make $100k+. Pay walls on websites aren't that expensive. Wait till people find out how much the Economists costs.
I also got my subscription through discountmags and locked in the price, so it’s only $50/yr in perpetuity for me.
I do agree that I’ve noticed a tinge of bias that didn’t seem there before, but to represent it as more than slight is incorrect based on my experience (been subscribijg for ~12 years)
The bulk of the analysis covers the period from 2017, when Mr Trump took office, to the end of 2019. We stop in 2019 in part because some data are released only annually, and in part because the pandemic has turned economies across the world upside down. Our conclusion is that, in 2017-19, the American economy performed marginally better than expected. (That conclusion remains if we follow the practice of some political economists, who argue that the influence of presidents on the economy can be discerned only after a year in office, and limit our analysis to 2018-19.)
The one thing I dislike about The Economist is their cover art. I grew to strongly dislike having some caricature of Trump or nuclear blasts staring me in the face all the time. Something something “living rent free in my head.” Except I was paying rent by paying the subscription.
I just want the information, and I’m happy to pay for it! But I reached a point where I couldn’t justify handing over that much money to them any more because it was unsettling having these images barge in at me every delivery or every time I took it out of my bag to crack it open. And they use the same lines other rags do: “if you read the economist, you’ll be informed, and to be informed is to be safe... now look at how the world is going to hell!” I felt like I was being negged as a subscriber.
There is a place for these works of art, I just wish it could be in the letter from the editor or one of their columns, all of which I appreciate.
I’d love to see some examples of flagrant omissions gone unchecked.
Quoting Garry Kasparov: "The point of modern propaganda isn't only to misinform or push an agenda. It is to exhaust your critical thinking, to annihilate truth."
I concur, however. Like others, on this thread, I (slowly) eliminated nearly all news from my life over the last two years. Doing this has had a profound effect on my perspectives, but has also ruined a lot of "conversation" for me. Previously, I played along in various forms of political shittalkery, but now, I find it disturbing to hear/see.
Increasingly, I am concerned by the tone, content, and purpose of many (American) people's strongly-held positions. On occasion I have found that voicing a contrary opinion results in estrangement, but more worryingly, merely not voicing a validation is enough to achieve some alienation.
Then, to be assaulted with ads while consuming these "information sources" on top of the crap. It's designed to sell you things you don't really need or want, and if your mental health suffers as a result, well, neither the producers or the advertisers give a shit.
I was right. It really didn't add anything of value to my life. I've never missed it.
The priority is to make money, with news and “facts” being secondary (or even further down the list). Most of the time, facts are uninteresting and therefore not prone to gain a lot of viewers — at least not when there is competing “news” that is more about being interesting than factual.
In other words, I no longer trust viewership and/or ad-driven “news”. Which pretty much means almost all news of all forms, including TV, web-based, and social media.
The Atlantic's Coronavirus coverage has been excellent for example, and the FT (while I don't always agree with the opinion pieces) has some of the most accurate and sober reporting around- often at the expense of being the first paper to a story.
When the price of information drops to near-zero, the niche papers can fill is to provide _trustworthy_ information. This could be where every reputable paper goes in the future.
If you want a quality education in anything, choose your sources carefully. For instance, Al Jazeera is a good source, except on the subject of Qatar.
Republicans have a strong incentive to encourage citizens to ignore the political news, because their policies are deeply unpopular. Republicans rely on a non-engaged citizenry for votes.
Brooks is one of the Republican elites who shapes Republican political strategy. He has a deep conflict of interest when he tells you to stop reading about politics.
Well, this is demonstrably untrue with people at large. You know, about 50% of the country or so.
Are you sure you are thinking outside of your bubble. Those polices may be unpopular with you or I but clearly people support right-wing polices.
Conservatives outnumber liberals in every age bracket above 30, among both men and women, in every income bracket, among every education class except folks with post-graduate degrees, in every region, and among both non-Hispanic white and Hispanic people: https://news.gallup.com/poll/275792/remained-center-right-id....
Many conservative and even some moderate voters might prefer to vote Republican but are uncomfortable doing so due to the current Republican platform which is not only not conservative, but also unwelcoming to anyone but straight white men and their allies.
On GOP policies:
> GOP leads on the economy but trails on other issues, including the coronavirus. By 49% to 40%, registered voters are more likely to say the Republican Party, rather than the Democratic Party, can do a better job on the economy. The Democratic Party holds wide leads on several issues, including climate change, abortion and contraception, health care, issues involving race and ethnicity, and handling the public health impacts of the coronavirus outbreak. Nearly half of voters (47%) say the Democratic Party could do a better job in handling the public health impact of the coronavirus outbreak, compared with 35% who say the GOP could do better.
> Conservatives outnumber liberals
Perhaps, but “people who identify as conservative” and “people who support Republicans’ concrete policies” have no necessary relation.
My point is that conservatives or liberals don’t necessarily outnumber one or the other in the way you’ve generalized across all these dimensions. If that were the case, conservatives wouldn’t need to rely on the electoral college to win Presidential elections.
"To your request of my opinion of the manner in which a newspaper should be conducted so as to be most useful, I should answer ‘by restraining it to true facts & sound principles only.’ yet I fear such a paper would find few subscribers. it is a melancholy truth that a suppression of the press could not more compleatly deprive the nation of it’s benefits, than is done by it’s abandoned prostitution to falsehood. nothing can now be believed which is seen in a newspaper. truth itself becomes suspicious by being put into that polluted vehicle. the real extent of this state of misinformation is known only to those who are in situations to confront facts within their knolege with the lies of the day. I really look with commiseration over the great body of my fellow citizens, who, reading newspapers, live & die in the belief that they have known something of what has been passing in the world in their time: whereas the accounts they have read in newspapers are just as true a history of any other period of the world as of the present, except that the real names of the day are affixed to their fables. general facts may indeed be collected from them, such as that Europe is now at war, that Bonaparte has been a successful warrior, that he has subjected a great portion of Europe to his will &c &c. but no details can be relied on. I will add that the man who never looks into a newspaper is better informed than he who reads them; inasmuch as he who knows nothing is nearer to truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods & errors. he who reads nothing will still learn the great facts, and the details are all false."
Democracy's burden is that some responsibility is placed upon all of us to contribute to sensible policy through discussion and voting. It is on us to interpret which part of history lines up with today.
And I'd argue reading opinions is helpful too to practice learning how to influence others. One take away from Jefferson's opinion here is "don't listen to them, listen to me."
Based on the data presented, the article seems to conflate “correlation as causation”. Specifically, there is no mention of eliminating selection bias.
Typically if people are currently fortunate and aren’t in need of social safety nets, these people are both more likely to be happier and, given the lower risk, they can afford to be politically agnostic.
Meanwhile, when people are in need of social safety nets/political change in general, they are likely to be less happy with their current lives and also more politically opinionated.
So while the article’s data says: political agnosticism is correlated with well being, the article’s narrative incompletely/incorrectly creates a causal link between being politically opinionated and a level of well being.
I'd argue that this is what we should expect from an abstract perspective too. If someone has to struggle just to put food on their table, it's going to be pretty hard to convince them that the goings-on of some political candidate are worth spending their time on.
“Given people discuss politics not at all, 40% make less than 30k per year.”
But we aren’t told how many people fall into “the given”.
What would be interesting for this discussion,
Given people’s income brackets, how often (the median, ideally also p90 and p99) do they discuss politics per month?
What helps is to not have the phone in your bedroom and charge iit elsewhere instead - replace it with a Kindle or a book and rread that instead for a few minutes upon waking up.
On the occasions that I do visit the site, I wonder what he would say about what The Atlantic has become. Not in terms of how it would suit his political biases, but in the agenda first, logic last, unimaginative partisan hackery. I imagine him ranting at length or condemning them eloquently.
In the last decade or so things have changed, online has boomed, spoken word/slam poetry took off and left it's mark. And now the markers which signify status in the poetry world are shifting. And for the first time in a while I was actually reading the Atlantic for the articles (online) and surprised to find how much of it was, as you said, partisan, ideology-first, logic-last type reporting.
>If you read too much news, it's bad for you.
I do enjoy the idea of a newsbubble, as it really does not add much to your everyday life, knowing something bad happened here, or there - because the news is a marketing machine of commercials and local interests that sell your attention to sell stuff.
But, it's also hilarious how they say too much is bad, it's akin to buzzfeed saying these websites are good, these that don't agree with us is bad.
I use a pihole, but you can just add a rule into your HOSTS file or local firewall to block access and untrain your body. I used to always be on reddit, consuming, not really contributing much.
Then I realized I spend way to much time, reading, which itself, is not a bad thing, but then I realized the communities of the people who may post in them may not be the best or really useful/smartest and then some communities turn into a "selfie" parade to whomever has some small budget can easily swing conversation.
Then I stopped going, and missed nothing. Once I realized the people online wouldn't be the ones I would normally want to be "seen" with or socialize with, it helped break the distinction and neutrality of a screen with words on it.
Now I'm more careful of whom I read articles from online, and forums, it's pretty much hit or miss, good for opinion swaying but any true info I make sure to verify and not rely solely on Google/AMP links, but if they are published and which vector of publishing are they on (from New York Times to Dailymail for example.)
And even then it isn't enough, all news suck and really does not matter to you.
Stoicism is best.
Same goes for voting. None of the research you do and the research others don't do will alter the outcome of the election.
Elections are just a process to rubber-stamp decisions that have already been made by groups of people who understand this.
From that I reasoned that breaking headlines are really not much use for anything. Concentrate on old books or documentaries if you want to know what is going on in the world.
From Sun Tzu (loosely): when an enemy is large in number, divide them.
Isn’t that what news does, especially the political crap we call news in the US - divide the population so they fight among themselves.
If we could locate these philosopher-kings from Aristotle and put them in charge, then ignoring politics might be safe.
But your disdain for bossing others around isn't reciprocated by the Chads and Karens seeking office.
This, detachment from the swamp is a sin of omission. You and your wallet will be punished.
Why? Because it contains no actionable information that changes my decisions: I'm still going to vote in every election, I'm still going to research the candidates when the time comes, I'm still going to volunteer at the polls...
The news is trivia, generally speaking. When I have a more active life in politics I'll take the Chomskian approach to news, but for now I'll vote with my ideals (which don't change with the passing tides of the news cycles)
I can't say "it contains no actionable information that changes my decisions". For example the news that Obama wanted to renegotiate the "SOFA" agreement before he even took office made me regret my decision to vote for him in `08 and I did not vote for him again in 2012 because I already knew he would not end those wars.
The only actionable thing I've really done since is keep others informed via FB of our progress to end those wars but for the most part interest in that fell off long ago with their yellow ribbon car magnets so it hasn't amounted to much real action.
This story didn't contain anything actionable that changes your decisions either, and yet you still read it and spent the time to comment. I don't see a substantive difference between reading HN and reading following political news. Nearly everything on this site (not even just this piece) will not affect your ability to accomplish your goals in anyway. It's a distraction at best.
Let's suppose for a moment that we ever reach a point where the democratic process gets involved with the question of how best to manage the western forests (what's left of them) in the USA. There will be people arguing for regular understory and brush burning, and others arguing against it.
Let's suppose that you're a citizen who gets to vote in some way on this matter. What will you base your vote on? The materials circulated at the time by those for and against various policies? Perhaps. But how will you judge those materials if you have not even a basic understanding of forest ecology.
Now, if you sit down and read about forest ecology today, it will have no impact on your ability to accomplish your goals in anyway. But is is not a distraction: it's the groundwork and the preparation for you to be able to participate meaningfully in democratic decision making, perhaps tomorrow, or next year or some other time in the future.
In short: it is education. You just have to be careful that you're learning about the actual world.
The issue with news is that I'm not sure reading all news sources is an effective way of educating yourself.
Another problem though is that of shared values and goals. In your example you said:
> the democratic process gets involved with the question of how best to manage the western forests
But how does it even get to this point? Does news play a bigger role in that part of the democratic process? The part where we decide on our values and our priorities?
He advocated eugenics, and he also recommended lying to the citizens about how it was decided who would be paired up with who.
So...I'm not sure we should go down that road?
From this perspective, participation only validates the farce.
Any political wins made by groups exploiting and dominating mainstream media (Trump) are explained by the fact that the barrier to entry in political action is so low—just getting a few people to vote is politically effective because almost everyone is just watching the news instead of doing anything real. Meanwhile Trump's team meets with money and accrues powerful stakeholders by annexing their agenda, building support in institutions and markets.
So ignoring political news and pursuing interfaces with actual nexuses of power is far more politically effective than the hundreds of people with twenty tabs of The Atlantic open and the WSJ draped across their lap like a religious shawl every morning. Go out, meet politically active people in your city, email representative staff, make friends with people with money and vested interests that are vulnerable to political changes.
I know what’s most important to me now, and I know how to participate in those issues.
Of course, there are many news outlets that don’t offer much in terms of better understanding the world, so avoid those.
But of course, news is a pretty questionable source for this goal, because its always filtered through an ideology that might not really have your wellbeing in mind.
Which highlights your point imo. If we change the way politics is done, then we can eliminate this issue. But it requires being politically informed.
I have found I know much more about politics now that I read history books and biographies rather than Sydney Morning Herald headlines.
De Botton's other books are worth a look, too.
I’m convinced that people who talk about “politics” as a thing external to them are just refusing to engage with the parts of the world that are uncomfortable to them.
* Evacuations ordered in Colorado and Utah as crews battle new blazes
* NFL reports no new positive Covid-19 tests
* Preorders are open for the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro
When people discuss political news, they're referring to stories like "Biden is putting red states in play" or "Mexican restaurant takes political stand with sign declaring 'No Love, No Tacos'" - stories which are fundamentally about partisans doing battle with each other.
In a profound sense, most political news really is “fake news”.
Someone who says that any discussion of e.g. energy policy is "political" is just being stupid. Someone who points out that someone is taking a particular position w.r.t e.g energy policy purely as a cynical political move might be right.
This feels like a version of the continuum/heap paradox.
And we have to be honest with ourselves about our personal life. For many of us, and it's probably fair to say most of us here on HN, life is pretty good. But we have to put that statement in perspective to see it that way. Where I live, in the Ozarks, life 100 years ago was pretty tough and even compared to when and where I grew up life is pretty good here right now.
In fact it's pretty amazing. Stuff I find here on HN amazes me almost daily.
You'll find some stuff that probably affects you that isn't being reported on at all. The "Proposed Rules" section is always interesting.
I mean, that's the problem with the federal register. Sure, it's all out there in the open, in public. Buried beneath 267 pages of three-column 8-point-font crud.
In germany, the minister of transportation lost the taxpayer 500 million euros, with a publicity stunt to bolster his party in a local election.
He is now lying in people's face about it, everyone knows it and he does not have to step back.
Instead, they wrote a fluff piece about him, because he managed to buy some masks for the nation by using some connections from his home town. The article that came out two weeks later about these masks being fake and another million euros lost was for some reason behind the paywall of the online newspaper.
It's not the news that makes people unhappy, it's the blatant bullshitting we have to endure.
On the other hand if you are looking for more nuanced reporting I've come to like deutschlandfunk radio lately.
Now I think it’s the norm for kids to have deeply felt political views.
I wish I knew how that changed. Maybe it’s the teachers because I also cannot recall any political discussion in me elementary or high school classrooms.
It is mostly a continuous attempt at manipulating people into thinking your party is good and that you should vote for this guy vs another.
It shows how corrupted and dishonest people become, the more power they get.
It's unhealthy by definition.
I disagree that the answer is ignoring the problem or tuning out politics as if it's something we can't control.
Sure, we're powerless inside the golden prison of democracy, believing the lies of the current psychopath leading the country and without a real choice.
But we need to be aware of how rotten the situation is, fight state mandated indoctrination and hope enough people over time are going to reach the understanding that the root problem is centralisation of power, not what's the name of the current buffoon in charge of spending half of your salary.
I may be reading too much into this article; this is probably just another new age attempt at getting people to ignore whatever bombshells are being dropped between candidates before the elections.
To me all sides are a joke with both of their arbitrary soap opera drama (Hunter Biden, the Impeachment, the russia collusion junk, PizzaGate (lol that one). Stop with the madness and made up crap... tell voters what you will do for them and the issues that matter! Politics doesn't need to be reality TV but that's what it has become and not just because of only the reality tv star in office; again both sides feed this madness/reality tv drama b.s.
The Atlantic ... is a joke just like the majority outlets feeding this reality tv narrative! Which is just about each and everyone of them; most local news isnt as bad, though.
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When I came back, I installed an extension to get rid of the trending section and some other garbage on there. It's been so much nicer since then (Retweets can still be problematic, but I don't want to block them entirely because I use Twitter as a way to follow artists that were forced to flee Tumblr. Retweets are how those artists share art from others that they like)
In the time that I was off Twitter, I didn't fully disengage from the news. I checked Apple News+ to stay up-to-date, but that was only once or twice a day instead of dozens.
I picked up a series that I'd stuck a bookmark in 30 years ago, and I wish I'd continued reading it back then. On the other hand, I have roughly 2,000 pages of greenfields escapist fantasy to crawl into. [For a number of reasons, I won't mention the series]
Even worse, audiences have a tendency to take it all a bit too seriously.
Everyone would be better off if pundits would look into the camera and wink occasionally. Just let us know that they know we know it is all a spectacle. A little acknowledgement goes a long way here.
(There was a really... interesting progression in the NYT's coverage of the Covid-19 outbreak in Spain where they downplayed it as obviously less severe than say Florida, omitting the already much worse trajectory it was on, then when it finally and inevitably became too bad to ignore they turned that whole thing into an allegory for Trump's failings too.)
WHAT??? Looks like the writers decided to bring back a reference to two seasons ago.
I've stopped bringing my phone to bed. Leave it in the office downstairs. The only device upstairs is a Kindle loaded with a lot of fiction and some nonfiction.
It's a start, anyway. I now believe that it's possible to be too well informed, be exposed to too much information of an ephemeral nature. Our brains aren't really designed for it.
We do need activists, but they don’t have to be journalists. Maybe these groups on youtube that are just filming things without interrupting with questions are the journalists of the future ... https://youtu.be/pW_jsS_JnMY
Instead we have appeals to 'truthiness' and 'fact-check' that defy the basic premises of human nature.
Partisan 'fact-check' outlets are a good example of this.
An admission of bias would serve as a disclaimer and a reminder for the consumer of news. Integrating the disclaimer into the writing could actively influence how the article is written.
I imagine they know they don't like the guy, but in their minds it is justified. I suspect there's a fair proportion of their staff who believes enacting Godwin's law isn't hyperbole.
For them, selectively misquoting the Charlottesville press conference isn't misleading, because they believe that they know the _truth_ about his intentions.
More or less, but the belief may be strong enough that they don't view it as misinformation. If they already believe Trump is a racist, selectively quoting his press conference in a way that construes him as a racist is accurate in their eyes. The full quote where he criticizes the racist groups could be viewed as Trump lying or hiding his true intentions, so they may feel it is their duty to not report that.
Of course journalists are individuals and there's a spectrum of this behavior on both sides of the aisle, but this is my take. Willful ignorance isn't only for children or idiots. Let's also observe the volume of illogical and often emotional arguments presented.
I also think that in a case like the news, there is a real need to step outside of the current cultural phenomena and engineer it — what are the known requirements for the news and how do we move from here to there.
1. Stop publishing minority opinions as if they were representative.
2. Stop publishing minor stupidities because they are "exciting".
3. Stop trying to be entertaining or interesting. Stick with informative, and if you get less views, so be it.
4. ???? Open to suggestions. Maybe we could write up a set of voluntary rules for journalists with ethics.