Monday, January 25, 2016

Following the News

News from around the world is available everywhere. It's hard to avoid: TV, radio, casual conversation bits, and of course the Internet. I do my best to strike a balance between ignoring the outside world, and obsessing over it.
I think it's important to have a basic knowledge of what is going on in the world. It doesn't impact my daily life in a significant way, since nothing I do will have much impact outside my very immediate area. It helps me keep an open mind, though, by seeing what is happening beyond my own little sphere. It's important for the purpose of conversation - you never know where your discussions might lead, whether they be with friends or just random daily interactions. And there's an entertainment aspect, too - some of the news is interesting even if I never actually use what I learn.

On the other side of the coin, it's not a great idea to obsess over remote events. With all the available news sources, particularly 24-hour news channels and the Internet, it's easy to spend a ton of time looking at just about any event or area. At some point, digging into the details stops being informative and becomes voyeurism.

My daily routine for maintaining the balance is to spend about an hour a day keeping up on the news. I usually listen to a half-hour of financial news (from Marketplace), watch a half-hour of local news, and watch one of the half-hour nightly news broadcasts. (Yes, I know that adds up to 90 minutes, but when you skip the commercials and a bunch of the stuff about the weather and local trial details, it's well under an hour.) I'll skim through the headlines for some news websites, too, usually while those news shows are on.

What I don't do is put on a 24-hour news channel all day, or watch wall-to-wall coverage of whatever crisis is filling the news cycle. If there's something of particular interest going on, I might spend some time looking at multiple sources, but otherwise I just need the summary from my daily routine.

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