The Prompt: I read the news today…

The Prompt 46

I read the news today… Except, I didn’t. Because these days I generally don’t. I find the sadness and horror distressing and heart breaking. I find the bias and spin depressing and disheartening.

I used to read the news every day, without fail. I wanted to know what was going on in the world; events, politics, commentary. I enjoyed a bit of gossip; the red carpets, reality shows, fashion.

Gradually though, I found much of the news harder and harder to read. Disasters, famine, war, senseless violence; it was all too much. Crying every time I opened a paper or switched on the news wasn’t compatible with a happy and positive outlook. I began to skim headlines, keep up to date with the big stories, but stay away from the detail.

The celebrity catastrophes and reality show dramas have become so extreme as to be ridiculous and in all honesty depressing and sad.

And as for spin, manipulation, lies? I have little patience for ‘news’ full of conjecture and misdirection.

But! However distressing we might find the latest horror story, I do believe we need to be aware of the world around us. I may prefer to get the bulk of my news from snippets; picking and choosing the stories that I read in full; but I still know what is going on.

If we are to engage in debate, we need to understand the issues. If we are going to comment or give opinion, we need to have the facts.

I read an article last week that espoused the view that all TV/computers/video games should be banned for children under twelve. It referenced several documents and research studies which apparently backed up this suggestion. However, if you investigated further (which I did), there were several other articles written in response, which rebutted each statement that the writer had made. In particular pointing out the misuse and misrepresentation of research data in the original article.

At first glance this was an article that appeared to be clear cut and factual and I imagine that many people would have taken it at face value. However, further reading made it quite clear that there were serious flaws in the argument and conclusions reached.

So much of the news we read has been spun. We need to take great care in the conclusions we come to.

My problem is in how to stay informed, but avoid the horror and tears, the gossip and hearsay. The news deserves to be read, people’s stories need to be told. We should celebrate the good, condemn the bad. We cannot fight for justice if we are not aware of the struggle.

But some days I simply cannot bear to take on board more sadness, more frustration at things that should not be. To feel the unfairness, the misery.

I want to read the news today, but I’m not sure I can.

[PS. I don’t want to open a debate on TV time for two year olds, that’s a whole other post :)]


You can find this weeks #ThePrompt linky here. I do hope this week’s prompt inspired you; I look forward to reading your posts.

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9 thoughts on “The Prompt: I read the news today…”

  1. I agree with you Sara that often I find the news too depressing although so try to stay aware of what is going on in the world but without necessarily reading too deeply. A lot of news items have some degree of ‘spin’ and may not represent the facts accurately or as is the case with many things posted on social media, may be complete hoaxes. Sometines we do have to read more deeply to get closer to the truth. A very thought-provoking post x

  2. Once again lovely I could have written this myself, but you know that already because you’ve just read my book! I stopped watching the news back in 2006 when I was recovering after my second breakdown and have never gone back to watching or reading daily. Hubby mainly educates me these days, and I end up knowing the important stuff which is fine by me. I don’t think it’s wise to live in a bubble but I won’t be taking on the woes of the world ever again xxx

  3. I totally agree, Sara!
    I feel physically ill when I read the news. I try my best to avoid it but it’s impossible to avoid it altogether. I have a good news website saved to my favourites and I read that everyday. It helps to balance things up a little. If we based our world view on the news alone, we’d be forgiven for thinking the world’s a horrible place. It can be, thanks to a minority of people but there are many good people and good things that happen, they just don’t make the news.
    People like bad news. It sells. A newspaper did a trial of publishing only good news for one day and sales dropped significantly. I don’t get it. :(
    Great post. X

  4. I feel exactly the same way! I find reading about the awful stuff too painful, so often avoid the news – yet I do feel I have a duty to know what’s going on so I try to take a peek. And the whole ‘spin’ thing can be quite difficult to navigate too, to try and find the truth amidst it all. It’s not easy is it? xx

  5. I have this type of discussion with my mum who reads the Daily Mail and will come out with things that are so ridiculous. There is so much doom and gloom in that newspaper, that I keep asking her to stop reading it: their take on the world is too depressing.

    What I do like is First News a newspaper aimed at children. I buy it for mine and read it myself. It has simple explanations of events that are happening in the world and lots of fun facts and stories. I don’t buy any other newspapers, but I do watch the news headlines to keep up with what is going on in the world.

  6. You’ve made so many brilliant points here. It’s so important not to take the news at face value – I was often shocked teaching media how much trust teenagers put in the ‘truth’ they were sold. But spin aside there is just so much in the world that is hard to fathom… I try to keep up with things where I can, usually through The Guardian’s email digest or Twitter – but sometimes switching off and focusing inwards is very necessary. Xx

  7. I don’t blame you not getting into the TV debate…my take on it would simply be, to quote a previous prompt…everything in moderation!

    Some, or maybe most days there seems to be more bad news than good, or, is it because we can now get news 24/7 so *everything* gets reported. Newspapers must struggle knowing that current stories are old news once published as most people have either seen TV news, heard radio news, or read internet news. I’m constantly amazed at how many are still in print and with so many takes on the ‘facts!’

  8. As a former journalist, I guess I would have a biased opinion….but I disagree with you entirely (in the politest possible way, of course! Family commitments mean I don’t keep up to date with current affairs as much as I did, but I think it’s vital and I want my news full of war, tragedy, famine and so on because it happens, it’s real and it mustn’t be ignored or forgotten about. While this idea wouldn’t receive universal agreement, I think the news is too sanitised.

    That isn’t to say I don’t like positive new. I do, and I think the ‘media culture’ is too focused on bad news. An awful lot of good in this world goes unreported because good service and good outcomes are simply expected.

    Purely by chance I have written a blog post about discussing current affairs with my children. I’ll be posting it on the blog in a couple of days and when I do I’ll share it with you.

  9. Love this, and I see what you mean about the similarities in our posts. The news can be distressing, and to avoid it isn’t just about sticking our heads in the sand to avoid genuine tragedies that occur all over the world – it’s more about avoiding the conjecture, misinformation and scaremongering. It winds me up too much! Oh, and all the celebrity traumas…so many more worthwhile things to expend energy and airtime on. xx #ThePrompt

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