Bad. News.

I don’t watch much TV.

During the week I hardly watch it at all; I let the TiVo do the work and catch up on the weekends.

I’m not showing off about it, that’s just who I am.

I also watch very little news, and I tend to shy away from current affairs/Political Programming, they either bore me or make me angry. Life is too short, and my time too precious to volunteer to be bored or angered.

Although I spend too much time on the Internet, I generally do not seek out “news” websites. For one thing, trips to such sites invariably turn to clickfests, jumping from one story to another. For another, I tend to leave no wiser than when I arrived. In spite of this, I have never been accused of being ill-informed. I wonder why that is?

A major part of it is media bias; there are many stories, for instance, that do not make it to the U.S. Media (for example, in the First Gulf War, A pair or US Air Force A-10 Warthogs opened fire on a clearly marked British Convoy, killing eight British soldiers — more than the Iraqis did in the entire conflict. The story made headlines in the UK, but does not seem to have been reported here), so for “fair and balanced” reporting I tend to gravitate to the BBC or to use multiple sources to minimize editorial bias.

Nor is the reportage complete; the stock market drop in the wake of September 11th is well documented, but the fact that those losses were reversed within two months is not so well-known. More recently, when the Dow dropped 800 points in one day the media was rife with tales of doom-and-gloom, but when the Dow rose 900 points over the following two days no reversals, apologies or retractions were forthcoming from the aforementioned doom-sayers; it was not even mentioned, as far as I can tell.

The sad fact is that bad news sells, while inconveniently good news is swept quietly under the carpet. Even worse, bad news can ecome a self-fulfilling prophecy.

As if that was not enough, too much of our so-called news is factually incorrect; over the past six months we have been told that this country is in a recession so often that most people have accepted it as fact. Unfortunately for them, the word “recession” has a definition — two consecutive quarters of negative growth — but that did not prevent the talking heads from reporting a recession when there wasn’t one. Irresponsible reporting such is this is dangerous, and can lead to self-fulfilling prophecies. It is infuriating that I should have to correct incorrect opinions shaped by people who should know better.

The sad fact, if you will pardon the pun, is that I find most of the news depressing. And in many cases the wibble-to-fact ratio is too high to be useful. It is enough to make me wonder if there is a correlation between consumption of large amounts of news and Depression.

Speaking of depression, some corners of the media are comparing the current situation with the Great Depression. I’d like to see them interview a survivor of the Great Depression. I suspect that those folks, who have survived massively high unemployment and large-scale near-starvation, would look at our “calamity” and smile sardonically at our well-fed attempts at comparison. Are times hard? Sure, but much of that is a consequence of reaping what we sow – and we need hope far more than a never-ending diet of bad news.

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