News Sources

Everyone has their favorite news source, ya know? I thought it would be interesting to share mine and let others see what a skewed view of the world it gives me.

First, I would like to mention what doesn’t work for me. I used to have a subscription to the Los Angeles Times, back when I was in an apartment with a door that faced the street and no gates preventing others from getting to me. I tried having one at my new place, but with two locked doors between my door and the street, the papers merely got thrown over the gate and if I didn’t pick it up early in the morning (say, on my way to work), it would simply go missing. So I stopped calling for my free replacement paper and just gave up the subscription. So I don’t subscribe to the main paper. (Or The Los Angeles Dog Trainer, as Harry Shearer calls it.)

I used to pick up the weekly Downtown News, which actually gets delivered inside our building, but as the papers piled up in my small space, I now just read it down in the lobby when I think of it, and put the copy back. Same for the local independent newspapers, the LA Weekly and City Beat. The less paper I bring into my apartment, the better the chances are that I will not one day be found gnawed and decomposing under a pile of newspapers, my cat fat and happy.

The LA Weekly, City Beat and Downtown News are all available online, with LA Weekly actually sending me emails and text alerts to give me the lead stories. So no paper. And I find without the physical paper, so much easier to ignore and not worth actually bothering to read much of it at all. Besides, what I really wanted to know from LA Weekly was when bands were playing and where. Since I am on the email lists and myspace bulletins of the local clubs and bands I want to go and hear, I already am getting some of that information, and fortunately, now sooner than just when they sell out.

I gave up watching the news years ago. It just made me anxious and depressed, watching about war and murder and car crashes and such. I think that was after a summer when I still had cable and I spent it lying on the couch watching SCUD missile attacks on CNN with Wolf Blitzer talking (and James Earl Jones’ langurous voice). There was nothing productive I was doing from wasting my time watching it, and nothing I was doing prevented it from continuing. In fact, I was doing nothing but allowing the TV’s images to hold me captive.

The images that most Americans have burned into their brains from 9/11 just aren’t in my head. My then boyfriend and I had just moved that week, and didn’t even have a TV yet at the new place, but had noticed we were having vivid color and violently disturbing dreams instead. Turned out there were some open paint cans we were breathing the fumes of every night when we closed the windows, so when we woke up that morning to the radio news, it just seemed like more of what we had been dreaming, death, mayhem and lots of red blood. Very surreal.

Predictions about the weather also never served me. The weather’s going to do what it’s going to do, and the best way to prepare for it, is to simply be prepared. I have an extra jacket, sleeping bag and water always stored in my car, so in case of snowstorm, car breakdown or sudden thunderstorm, I have it covered. No need to listen to the weather report to know it might rain. If I wake up and there are clouds in the sky enough to make it overcast and gloomy looking, it just might.

My real true main sources of news are in the form of podcasts. I subscribe to mainly music related podcasts, but also to APM’s Marketplace, a half hour week daily show about money, the economy and its impact on the world in relation to newsworthy items; and Harry Shearer’s weekly Le Show. You might think Harry Shearer, comedian, musician and the voice behind several familiar Simpsons characters would not be that up on the news, but I have to admit, he talks about issues that I don’t see covered in mainstream media. He had been talking for almost a year about the transition to the digital TV signal, and the coupons program not being effective, and how synching of visual and sound signals on HD broadcasts were woefully inadequate, etc. That’s in the part of the show called Welcome to the Digital Wonderland, with its own little theme song and copyright. Everything on his show is copyrighted, from News of the Warm, to broadcasting from the world famous Le Show Dome, in Santa Monica, Home to the Homeless. Or maybe it’s in New Orleans, where he alternatively broadcasts from, when he isn’t on the road and recording his show from various other locations. His Apologies of the Week are also entertaining, with anyone who apologized for something, often inserting their foots more firmly in their mouths in the process. No one is sacrosanct. He sings, he spoofs, he interviews people and keeps his listeners informed of the world we live in. Like continued letters about airport security and how NOT TIGHT it is, looking for one thing in the carry-on while ignoring the large bladed hunting knife. Go ahead, write a letter, he might read it on air!

And then, while on the computer, online, I have a little scrolling Google newsflash thing going by, and anything of interest I go and check out. Like news of that giant snake fossil found in Central America, which would have made it longer than a bus and weighing more than a ton. So see? I keep up on the news. And since it is tailoring the news to the stories I go check out, at this point, it is mainly showing me articles from The New York Times. Maybe their titles are just more interesting than any others….

Then when I go to login to check my email, of course Yahoo! tells me all about the latest celebrity gossip, in case I cared to know. So without even trying, I know more useless things that I really would prefer not bothering with.

When I first gave up watching the daily news, I was in college. I was actually afraid I might miss something important. Some classes used topical events as discussion points. But anything really important? I tended to already have heard about. And this was before the World Wide Web really got rolling. The only thing I really noticed was sometimes I just didn’t get a joke that David Letterman had. If it was really big news, he would joke about it again the next night, and usually I would have caught up on the subject matter, just from hearing other people talk, at the bus stop, waiting in line, before classes. It really wasn’t much of an effort to keep up. It was more the celebrity gossip that I missed out on. Big whoop. Not much missed there.

And so it was done. After noticing only small changes in my understanding of the world as a result of not actively seeking out the news, I gave it up. My two podcasts are the only things I actively listen to, and usually while doing something else, so not even with my full attention. And as a result, I don’t feel like I’m missing a thing. If I really want to know about something in the world, that’s what the internet and libraries are for. Research.

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3 Responses to “News Sources”

  1. gary Says:

    I listen to NPR at breakfast and before dinner. They’re calm and informative. Don’t have a TV, and man, newspapers are expensive! Huffington post is amusing, as is Stephanie Miller on the radio—do you know Stephanie Miller?

  2. Carol Elaine Says:

    I second NPR and Stephanie Miller. The Daily Show and The Colbert Report are also preferred news sources, oddly enough, because they don’t analyze things to death, unlike CNN, nor do they decide that a pretty white girl gone missing in the Caribbean is more newsworthy than a new item revealing the existence of the minutes of a meeting which supported suppositions that “the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy” by Bush and his administration in regards to the Iraq War.

    Not that I have an issue with that or anything.

  3. redroomsalon Says:

    I will check out Stephanie Miller. I have tried the Daily Show and the Colbert report, and I just find them to be entertainment more than news, so though I enjoy them, I don’t go out of my way seeking them, as I always feel as though I should have been doing something else while watching them. Maybe it’s just the whole radio vs. tv thing. Since if it is visual I will glue myself to it, while if it is audio, I will do other things while listening.

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