No news is good news

Take a look at today’s front page of your favorite newspaper, in print or on the web. Odds are that the top stories are bad news. Maybe they are about a mass shooting, about dysfunction in your country’s political system, or about how difficult it is for folks to find jobs these days. You’d think everything in the world is terrible and getting worse.

So when I say that “no news is good news”, I don’t mean that a lack of news is good news, as the traditional interpretation of the phrase goes. No, I mean that there is hardly any good news on the front pages of newspapers. Not usually on the front pages of news magazines either, although news magazines seem a bit less negative.

Journalists and news editors will cover whatever news people want to read, so I don’t think it makes sense to blame them. In fact, I don’t think it’s necessary to blame anyone. I’m even tempted to say that it’s not a problem that so much bad news exists. Not a problem for you or me, anyway, because a simple solution exists: don’t read bad news!

Except it is a problem. The omnipresence of bad news might make you think that the world is a much worse place than it actually is. When you spend less time reading big news stories and when you think about your daily life, you’ll likely find that the terrible things going on all over the world don’t affect you much. So to get a more accurate perspective on the state of the world, consider reading less news or different news.

Fortunately, plenty of other news sources exist. I tend to read to more specific news, such as articles about my favorite American Football team, the Eagles. I also follow blogs on topics such as local infrastructure development, personal finance, public transit, and bicycling culture. It’s news, but not the bad kind of news you’ll find in so many other places.

Mr. Money Mustache and Tim Ferriss have called the approach of reading less news a low-information diet. Mr. Money Mustache takes a hard line, suggesting that you don’t follow the news at all, with maybe an exception or two. For instance, he reads The Economist, with the intention to read well-researched stories once a week or so and not following live blogs of the latest bombing or political crisis.

I’m slowly moving away from closely following general (and thus often bad) news myself. A few months ago I canceled my newspaper subscription because I find myself being interested almost exclusively in the non-news parts of the paper. One of my favorite parts is a weekly feature that examines the structure of a particular family’s daily life. What time does each of the family members get up and go to bed? Does the family have breakfast together? What do the family members do after work in the evenings? But this feature is only a small part of the newspaper and I consider it a waste to subscribe to the entire paper, only to read a few parts of it. I’m looking for a magazine with stories like these, although I have plenty to read already. Maybe I’ll browse some magazines in my local library.

In the end, I’m not here to tell you to read less bad news. But I do want to stress that the world is a much happier place than newspapers make it seem. If you want to get a more realistic view of events that affect you, consider cutting down on the front-page news.

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Posted by Peter

Here, Peter writes about whatever has caught his interest recently. Maybe he'll narrow down this blog's scope someday.

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