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.