Growing up, the news was a constant in our home. If we were at home during the day, my mom would always turn on the news at noon (unless we got to the tv first and changed the channel to The Flinstones then begged like crazy to watch it!) and, after dinner each night, the first thing my dad would do after reading the newspaper was turn on the 6 o’clock news. As I got older, I realized that the 11 o’clock news was also part of my parent’s nightly ritual.
I continued watching the news as I got older. I remember when I was at university (and we loved pulling all-nighters – something I don’t think I’m even wired to be able to do anymore!), living in residence and we found ourselves glued to the television all night watching the standoff in Waco, Texas between David Koresh and the Branch Davidions and US government agents. It was horrifying and, yet, we were drawn like moths to a flame. At the time I didn’t realize it, but the media coverage was causing me an inordinate amount of stress.
As I grew older, I became more aware of world news in other formats. The internet grew and stories of horror were not on the television, the radio and the newspaper, but were also apparent each time I checked my web-based email. I could spend hours each day learning about terrible tragedies around the world (such as the recent Yahoo news article about 49 Headless Bodies Found in Mexico – and, no, I didn’t read it).
And sometimes I make mistakes, being lured by the internet to pick up a news story that I’ve successfully avoided. Take the news stories covering the trial of the man now convicted of murdering Tori Stafford. I had for monthes (literally) avoided the details of the trial. The thought of reading about Tori’s death and all of the evidence being present was more than I could stomach. Then, one day in March, I came across a news article online. With one click, I found myself immersed in all of the horrible details. I was appalled and wished that I could wipe the details of this tragedy out of my mind. And I learned from that mistake.
So, for that reason, I’ve made a conscious decision not to watch the news and to keep my newspaper and internet article reading to a minimum. Don’t get me wrong – I still go through both the local newspaper and a national newspaper on a daily basis. I am just selective about what I read. I also read a great deal of news online but, again, I am careful about what I choose to read. I want to ensure that I’m keeping up with the world around me without finding myself in a dark pit of despair because of all the human tragedies that seem to receive coverage on a daily basis. I think that having so too much information around us (especially if it is sensationalistic in how it is reported) can be detrimental.
Am I the only one that sees the value in vetting what news watch and read?