104 Comments
Feb 19Liked by Elle Griffin

I pick my so called news battles, I guess. I have only streaming television and if I want a local news update, I have to go thru the internet versus the incessant chatter of local tv news and other news networks. (My 78 year old father has his television constantly going).

I read science journals, nature, climate- these interest me so I want as much info- good and bad going forward. I only follow a couple of blogs of people who are knowledgeable, experienced and provide good info and analysis regarding state and national political issues. But I can’t listen to NPR every day or read news every day or have the bombardment of news from EVERYWHERE. It is detrimental to my mental health and overwhelming. It is exhausting only hearing the crime, the bickering, the disasters and accidents, etc.

I allow one day ( morning) a week to skim or hear what happened in the world and skip celebrity news. I check the weather every day- and even that can get sensationalized some days. I have days where I read only things I am curious about, to learn, etc not to be upset. I read fiction, poetry, some practical non fiction ( gardening, how to, etc). I do want to know about laws changed, made, etc as that can impact me or my sons, disability issues are important to us as it impacts us as well. And after knowing someone who lived in a brutal dictatorship after a coup and having a relative in the military-I keep a balanced but aware eye on certain political figures. Not the news cycle, but folks i mentioned before who know how to sift through the garbage and find the good, fact based info to digest who let the info speak for itself mostly.

I try to find balance instead of just hating humanity and its ugly sides. I will subscribe to some of the pubs I saw mentioned here.

Doom scrolling handcuffs us, subjugated us, makes it hard to imagine a better world. I think I just want the freedom to imagine something better.

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Jan 9·edited Jan 9

As a new subscriber I am quite late to this but want to thank you for it anyway! I have stopped reading/consuming "the news" for a while now without articulating quite why and here you've done it! I've felt a bit guilty about it too but you're helping me rid myself of that. Thank you! So much clarity here for someone like me, thank you. I will say I read a futurist (I can't remember who) who said he didn't read the news and it wasn't necessary -- because if something important happened you'd hear about it, or some such (I may be paraphrasing incorrectly, but that was my takeaway). I have found it to be true. But also thank you for the reading recommendations. I didn't know about a lot of these sources and I think they sound great!

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Elle, this was a great essay, one I am saving as a great reminder for engaging with modern news and journalism, and I appreciate you pointing us to your new news sources! I've never heard of the delayed gratification site, I'm going to check that one out!

I agree strongly that too much media can really mess with how we see the world, and unfortunately most is slanted to make news out of things that aren't news or to twist data to a way that keeps us reading. I do wonder though if cutting it out entirely is a recipe for apathy (not a judgement, just a musing). For example, the stats you shared around life expectency, while true, does not negate the fact that there are disparities. I look at the city I live in, and life expectency varies by 25 years, depending on the zip code you're in, and these zip codes are less then 10 miles apart! So while I think celebrating human progress is where we can rest when it's time to rest, when it's time to act, we need to look at the current state of affairs.

All that being said, I think that can be done with cutting out 99% of mainline news...just not all of it.

Anyway, great posts, and I'm enjoying reading your work!

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I always describe news media as a lighthouse. The beam shines at a small point in the horizon and then shifts quickly. But that doesn't mean whatever is not illuminated isn't still taking place.

Thanks for reposting this one, Elle. I also appreciated the slow news recs!

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Great stack!

Well done on stepping away from the NYTs and the rest of the CNN .. constant negative news.. we are being increasingly bombarded with. As the fear around covid began to diminish, we were told the earth was boiling, instead of warming, in graphic detail , with weather reports that had been updated in terms of colours used to indicate heat. The colour red became what previously been represented by a dark yellow, and this was done with all temperatures receiving an upgrade. The faces, and journalists may change occasionally, as may the governments, but the message remains the same. I disengaged from mass media in 08 as I was involved in the construction business, saw it going to hell in a handcart, as I was at the coalface, and wages had been stagnant and decreasing for a good two years while the papers and news channels merely parroted government narratives. Minor hiccups. Nothing to worry about. Then after a year, ok, there’s a blip, but there would be a soft landing. Anything to avoid the recession word, trapping people into overpriced mortgages right up to the collapse of the Ponzi scheme. Then the peddling of the bank bailouts being small but necessary. The final amount in my country , Ireland, is still not known. Nationalising the banks was going to take about 10 billion we were told. The last figure I heard was 760 billion. In a nation of 5 million. I now find myself in a room in say, my parents house, and see a snippet of a news programme, and the doom like tone of delivery is almost comical. Almost. People, my parents included, still take it as gospel. I, for my part, do not miss it. Not even in the slightest. Thanks for sharing so many links to be looked up for further reading. 👏✍️

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I also used to love the NYT, folded over on weekdays to articles I could read quickly to a large spread on Sunday mornings that lasted for hours, the adult equivalent of a cereal box I’d read and re-read... but not anymore; I cancelled my subscription well before the 2016 election and turned off the background news of CNBC and later MSNBC that ran on my TV. I no longer watch weekend shows that were hours long on meaningful topics that morphed into quick hit prime-time shows they vowed they would not become. These days, the TV is blank except for reruns at night. I’m not going to replace it when it finally fails.

Just as I was reading grafs on Pinker, a CNN notification popped up; Biden leads T in NH... but voters are dissatisfied with both .... yeah, it’s a formula... you’d think people would recognize it and shun it by now... it must baffle and surprise media execs that it still works, the simplicity of it all. No wonder journalists all think we’re rubes and suckers.

I worked at our local newspaper in Dayton before and during 9/11 and a few years after in NIE. Our larger mission was to make ... odd verb but I don’t have another ... kids lifelong newspaper readers. This was back before all this hyper fear and anger stuff ... it is possible to present news well and teach folks how to engage in their world in a healthy way.

I was in the newsroom all day 9/11 at the helm of their website... something happened right there, the day the formulas melded and became what we see today. It was weird watching it, like seeing 100 years of history all happening in a day...

I hope I didn’t addict any kids to a lifelong newspaper habit... I like to think the journalists I worked with didn’t pivot intentionally, but it’s hard to see they didn’t. Actually, the few I still keep in touch with left journalism shortly afterwards... I never really did ask why and we don’t talk about it, but 20 some years later, maybe we should...

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Sep 22, 2023·edited Sep 22, 2023Liked by Elle Griffin

This is such an amazing piece! Thank you for sharing your views on this. I can't agree enough, it's such an important aspect of society today that often gets overlooked. A lot of us can easily fall into the trap of mindless scrolling and click-bait news, that we forget how these algorithms, over time, are getting better and more sophisticated at reshaping our point of view by feeding us more of the same narratives we choose to spend time on. Inherently creating an increasingly hidden vortex of biases that we barely notice is happening.

And maybe perhaps the shift to more focused capitalistic incentives in traditional media, as a by product to the proliferation of independent Internet media has happened so gradually, that as a means of business survival that maybe even the journalists themselves are disillusioned and trapped into the cycle of writing stories that'll help the companies/brands they work for survive— and unfortunately the shock factor of negative news is what sells and what vitality thrives on. So, maybe some journalists, especially those working for traditional media, have even also fallen prey to the clicks and likes they're getting on a story.

Thank you for sharing this! I think everyone needs to read your article.

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I totally agree with this! It’s so strange how you don’t notice how negative it can be and how much it can subconsciously weigh on you psyche until you stop consuming the news 24/7. I used to have such a finger on the pulse of news & disasters until I got really ill almost 3 years ago and my own personal life was such a disaster because I couldn’t leave the house & my entire life became swamped with hospitals, appointments, medication and so much stress and trauma. So I made a conscious decision to delete Twitter (where I got most of my political updates), all the news apps, and stop watching and reading the news! And it made me feel a lot better. And now I am slowly starting to recover from my chronic illness, I have not once wanted to put myself back in that constant noise.

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Sep 21, 2023Liked by Elle Griffin

I do think this is a much needed message. Too often, we focus on the negative and fully dismiss the positive. That being said, I think both are necessary to see the world clearly. It can feel just as lonely to be sad and surrounded by happy people as to feel happy and surrounded by sad people. We need to make space for the whole of human experience, including overwhelming hope and joy!

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Thanks for the reading suggestions!

I needed those. :)

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Misery sells but it also depends on whose sad stories the media is hawking. A little tremor in ‘our country’ will sell more than a horrifyingly destructive earthquake in some far-off place.

I read the news but I’ve figured out how to balance sorrow with staying healthy inside my head.

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I just deleted all of the news site favorites from my browser. I already feel lighter.

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This!!!! 100%!! I've long suspected that there is much more going right in the world than we ever hear about, because the news we do get is so distorted towards dis-integration and drama. I love the idea of "Delayed Gratification" - will definitely check that out. And "Future Crunch" reminds me of the Good News Network that I've long admired - https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/

I also subscribe to Grist, an online newsletter w/ good news about the climate crisis. Their offerings also include "Fix," their "solutions lab," which highlights climate storytelling and activists. https://grist.org/ and https://grist.org/fix/about/

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Thank you for your quote ‘I don’t want to dwell in the darkness of the trees, I want to rise above it and see the forest’.

I like slow news. I like to read a weekly newspaper, when the news is slightly old but not past its sell by date. Three months is a little too long for me. As well as the facts, I like to read a bit of analysis, to get a feeling that people are thinking carefully of the consequences and impact on society. I also like the ritual of reading the paper at the weekend, with a cup of Assam tea.

Luckily, in the UK we are less exposed to Trump, but we do have our own political minefield. And endless celebrity non-news.

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My feeling is that it's less to do with the tone and language of the news and more to do with the frequency. At least here in the UK, back in the 80s and 90s when there were only 4 channels on TV you only had maybe 2-3 points during the day when you'd be able to watch 'the news'. It was a collected, curated infodump, far less obsessed with being 'live'. You'd get a newspaper once a day, max, and maybe you'd only actually get the Saturday paper with its weekly summaries.

Fast forward to now and there are entire channels that ONLY do news, 24 hours a day. You can get up-to-the-minute news on newspaper websites. If you're still on a Twitter/X for some reason you can get up-to-the-second news.

I love the idea of Delayed Gratification because it has an old school approach to news: perhaps not in its actual content, but in its pace of delivery. Having more news all the time doesn't help us make better decisions or be more informed. It's the old less-is-more adage.

I don't think I agree that focusing so heavily on the positive is the answer, either - that's seems like a bit of a luxury to me. But slowing down and delaying news consumption, while remaining highly informed, seems like the way to go.

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Love your approach to news! My longtime favorite newsletter is not about news at all, it's about the beauty of human life, nature & poetry, how humanity overcomes suffering & pain. It's the 1st paid newsletter I subscribed to, more than 10 years ago: The Marginalian (formerly Brain pickings) by Maria Popova.

In her words: " the week’s most mind-broadening and heart-lifting reflections spanning art, science, poetry, philosophy, and other tendrils of our search for truth, beauty, meaning, and creative vitality."

https://www.themarginalian.org/newsletter/

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