Sit down. Turn on the tv (or the tele for you non US). Flip over to CNN, Fox, or BBC. Listen to their account of current events.
Pick up your phone. Open Facebook, tap on this article and that, and read about how the President is corrupt or good, or how our society has forgotten this or that custom, or whatever.
Sit in the car and turn the radio dial to the “news” station. Listen to traffic reports, headlines, and some talk show that you mostly agree with.
I bet that these are the main ways in which we follow what we call “news”.
Here’s the problem: Good things in life require that we go out and get them. Why should we think any differently about news?
What’s the goal in watching the news? How do we resist being tossed about amid the various winds of what we perceive to be current events?
Things to consider:
- Things portrayed on the news programs as important are often insignificant in relation to the myriad of other things happening in this world.
- Stories we are shown on such programs may shrink our perspective on the world, instead of expanding it.
- We sometimes forget to distinguish between facts and opinion in the channels we follow, and we end up taking on opinions of others without realizing it.
3 good questions to ask
- What are they NOT saying? What is the reporter, writer, or news network trying to communicate with their coverage of this story? Can we see an agenda behind their reporting, or are they simply reporting pure facts? People rarely report events without some basic agenda that they are trying to advance. Having an agenda in itself is not bad, but we run the risk of being manipulated if we are unaware of them.
- Is this really worthy of my time? I believe stories about Ryan Lochte’s escapades, for example, are inconsequential and unworthy of our time. However, most of CNN’s broadcast in the closing days of the Olympics was devoted to this story. When the news becomes a soap opera, don’t complain — just turn it off.
- Does this make me better? Many times, we take in stories gossip and conflict, and we are no better informed about the world than we were before. Many stories are in fact distractions, taking our limited time and energy away from the things on which they should be focused.
What then do we do?
As I said before, if something is important, we’ve got to go get it. I think that information is the same way. Rather than an end in itself, the news should be thought of as part of the means by which we journey toward truth. So, perhaps, as we watch the news that does come in front of us, we ought to ask ourselves, does this help me grasp the truth of what is happening in the world around me?
Here are some stories that may help:
Many of us seem to have forgotten, or at least lost our concern for, the civil war that still rages in Syria. Just days after things were supposedly dying down, the country continues to be torn apart by war.
Christians are still being tortured and killed in areas controlled by ISIS, an area that has not seen peace in a long time.
While Americans get back to business after the hurricane, people in Haiti are devastated. We ought to ask many questions; Haitians have endured much suffering over the decades.
Unfortunately, nationalism still prevails in many Eastern European nations, which stifles the economy and keeps people from working together.
Many of my friends have been nervous about this situation in particular.