Avoiding News

I tell people that if it's in the news, don't worry about it. The very definition of "news" is "something that hardly ever happens." It's when something isn't in the news, when it's so common that it's no longer news -- car crashes, domestic violence -- that you should start worrying.

This quote from Bruce Schneier prompted me to start seriously considering my media consumption as it relates to news, world and local. Suffering from news fatigue (though I'm still interested in almost news), I would like to turn off the radio, so to speak. I don't want to stop being entertained and informed. I just want an end to the treadmill of "breaking news" (which used to mean "something new and important is happening" and not "we have new information about an old story" or "an old story that we're working on is still happening".

Here's what I'd had to avoid in order to avoid the news:

  • pretty much all of TV (those damn 1-minute news during commercial breaks would ruin non-news programs) but esp. 5-7 PM on CBS/NBC/ABC. All of CNN and CBC Newsworld.

  • Facebook altogether (people re-report the news in their Facebook status). I'm not against new information that my friends provide about themselves. That's great! I like my friends!

  • most of Twitter, esp. trending topics. Many people rebroadcast news, either in the form of a link to the news item, or in the form of commentary without mentioning the specific event (prompting me to look up what they're talking about)

  • busy subway stations

    • Metro, 24 Hrs and other free dailies have operatives at the entrances handing out copies

    • people leave copies on their seats or the ground

  • anywhere there's a newspaper box, to the extent that you would have to plan your walking route around them

    • open data project mapping all the newspaper boxes?

    • remember that episode of Da Vinci's City Hall when the mayor removed all the newspaper boxes in protest of something. He can do that?!

  • convenience or grocery stores

  • fast food restaurants (which usually have newspapers lying around)

  • many (probably not most) blogs. Definitely popular ones, though, since they tend to rebroadcast big news.

Similar ideas:

Some good tweets about breaking news:

Counterpoints (arguments specifically addressing avoiding paying attention to the news):