I’ve not really subscribed to any newspapers since moving away from my parents house. (Not that I read them regularly there either.). I’ve always been feeling a bit ashamed about this, about not ‘staying current’ and not ‘being interested in world events’.
We got a subscription of Helsingin Sanomat (the largest newspaper in Finland) as a christmas present, and the newspaper has been faithfully dropping through our door (and waking us up) every morning since.
I’ve read around 60% of the papers. I’m not really a morning person, so I don’t read them in the morning and I don’t always come home early to have time for much. And when the next day’s paper comes it becomes less and less likely I’ll ever open the previous one. So now I’m still not reading all of the papers and additionally we are wasting the money spend on the subscription and producing a whole lot more paper garbage.
So I started thinking about the whole daily news thing vs. reading in general. I mostly have the feeling that there are a lot of things I should have read or should be reading (philosophy, papers in my own fields, law, economics, history etc.) – that there is a whole lot of important things I don’t know.
Newspapers aren’t really a very efficient way of getting to know the world. You have to piece together from daily events the actual changes and read every paper so that the you share the assumptions made by the journalist. Additionally, most newspaper writing is not terribly analytical nor accurate (anything that gets to the news wire will be printed without further review, witness the recent ‘Burning mouse sets house ablaze’, or the whole Toothing thing, which got actually edited out of the Reuters web archive after it turned out to be a hoax).
So maybe I shouldn’t be spending my time learning from such a poor source of information? I could instead spend more time reading books from the likes of Chomsky and Castells. They’ll tell me all the important things, throw in some analytical and critical thinking and put together the big picture. So it’ll be a couple of years late, but will that really make a difference with most things? If anything really important to me happens I’m bound to find out about it anyway, by definition.