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"Not following the news is what causes harm." - I totally agree with Joel here, and disagree with you. I've spent the last 5 years pretty much a news junkie. I spent 2-3 hours a day, equally split between the NYT, WSJ, Economist, and weekends spent listening to NPR.

What I've realized is that, in general, I'm not better informed about the world, but I am more indoctrinated into the Left Wing (NYT), Right Wing (WSJ) and Intellectual-conservative-laissez-faire-right (Economist) world views.

I guess for a more complete picture of the opposing world view philosophies, I could add BBC, al jazeera and CSMonitor to my mix - but these outlets don't inform, they promote their world views and, more importantly, pander to the desires of their audience. Suggesting the news is a way of getting unbiased knowledge of the world is like saying the Supreme Court of the United States makes judgements based on law.

You want to get an unbiased view of the world? Go out, and see it with your own two eyes, smell it with your nose, touch it with your hands.

I don't believe, after spending the last years comparing and contrasting the WSJs/NYTs takes on stories (often comedic in their different perspectives) that I'm any better informed about the world than if I had just watched the Daily Show, or even, god forbid, tuned into CNN/Fox News.

The one exception, that I've found, is Nate Silver's column - http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/. I'm not sure what worldview he is promoting, other than "Math is cool" - and I do tend to trust it with regards to what's happening in term of Polling data regarding the US election.

Other than that, though, I appreciated and agree with pretty much everything Joel wrote in his post.




I made it a point to make sure I mentioned that all news is biased. I meter said otherwise. But bias is not a bad thing like everyone wants to make us think. Sometimes bias is good. Not all opinions are created equal and this whole idea of two differing opinions both having equal merit is bullshit. Sometimes one opinion has merit and the other is just bullshit. I embrace bias.

You called yourself a news junkie. That right there is the problem. Being a news junkie is just as unhealthy as completely ignoring the media.

Watching the Daily Show is no different than consuming news from any other mainstream outlet. It may be satire but it's still news and it's still mainstream.

I don't know how you can say you're not better informed. If you consume news from anywhere at all then you're infinitely more informed than anyone who goes along with Joel's no-news-consumption advice.

I feel like you didn't read what I wrote because I do address some of what you say in my comment. I don't blame you though, I didn't realize it was such a long comment when I wrote it.


I actually did take the time to read your 852 word, eleven paragraph missive.

The part that you didn't capture, is that, by and large, listening to the "news" is not actionable, and mostly serves the purposes of indoctrination, and entertainment. There is also a difference between having a bias towards the truth, and just being biased. Saying "Man landed on the moon" is biased towards the truth. Saying "Science is a solution to many of our problems" is just bias. (albeit one that I have)

If something's really important, you'll hear about it (I would call that important subset of events the news, as opposed to the "news"). I fully support Joel's "Just turn it off and make better use of your time" position - you (and your community/country) will be better served.

Also - don't get me wrong, there is a difference between broadly educated, and well read (which I strongly, strongly support) - and being up to date on the "news" - which I see minimal value in.


Then maybe we're thinking about different versions of what the news is. Telling people to shut off the news is destructive because the news is not all indoctrination and entertainment. I'm not an idiot. I know what the news is in that sense. But when you put out a broad call to shut it all off that means shutting out the good stuff too. The better solution I'm talking about is knowing how to tell the difference. If you can do that and be informed with the news that's worth consuming that infinitely better than tuning out completely which is what Joel calls for. Maybe he didn't mean it like that but when you have an audience that large you have to assume most of the audience will take it as its written which, if they do, will lead them down an ignorant anti-intellectual path. We don't need anymore anti-intellectuals in this world (especially in the US where it's recently become cool to be an idiot and somehow being elite is a bad thing).


Your concerns seem well-intentioned but they miss the point of the post. The knuckle-draggers you worry about aren't searching out blog posts looking for reasons to stop participating. The fact of the matter is that it has been shown that people who watch TV news know less (or more false things) than those who do.


I noticed that you summarized the slant for 3 of your 4 chosen sources, but not for NPR. I'm always curious about well-informed opinions regarding NPR's editorial position, and would like to hear yours.

For the record, I have read a fair bit of BBC News and CSMonitor in past years, and came away feeling that the Beeb was predictably middle of the road, and CSM was actually fairly good. I haven't read Al Jazeera but have heard it's more respectable than Americans expect. As for your other three, I agree with each. 538 is the only part of NYT that holds my interest.


NPR clearly has a world view that they are posturing, It's just hard to nail down. They tend towards being liberal, and intellectual eliteness, but I've heard balanced stories on abortion, israel, and even gun rights - so they throw me off. NPR reminds me of Justice Kennedy. The majority of the time (as in, 90%+) I can tell you where Scalia, Roberts, Alito, Ginsburg, Breyer, Kagan, Sotomayor and Thomas will vote on a constitutional issue before them. That's not to say that Roberts won't throw me a curve ball and vote differently on an initiative than I expect (Health Care) - but, in general - I know where they will fall.

I'm no better than tossing a coin at guessing Kennedy.

I'm not saying he isn't trying to push his biased world view on me, I just haven't nailed it down yet. Same goes for NPR.


Great analogy. Thank you.

I enjoy NPR, but I often feel a little too "over-chummed" after spending too much time listening. I worked in public radio (not national public radio) for a long time, and I know that it's very easy to assume that your listeners are a) the same listeners as yesterday, and b) agreeing with you.

And often they are. The wretched worst part about NPR is the sycophantic "I'm intellectual, you're intellectual, we're all intellectual here" callers on the few shows that take them. Spending too much time in the aural company of those people makes me feel insufferable.

The news is pretty solid, though. And the APM shows are excellent.


Reminds me of this quote from Christopher Hitchens:

“I became a journalist partly so that I wouldn't ever have to rely on the press for my information.”




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