The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench

Words to live by: “Turn off the news”

family_watching_tv.jpgAs one who toiled long and hard in the network news business for nearly three decades, I can give this suggestion a hearty “Amen”:  

I don’t mean to put anyone out of work in this difficult economy — I even have several friends in this profession — but I implore you to turn off the news and leave it off. Mainly, I want you to turn off the local news, where “if it bleeds, it leads” and the priority, after titillating you with gore, is to scare you — because they thrive if we think we have to watch or we’ll die.


There are a number of reasons I recommend turning off the news. First, life is stressful enough already. Who needs this? Second, if you are powerless over something, there’s usually no benefit in worrying about it. Third, exposing yourself regularly to the ugliest aspects of society darkens and coarsens your view of other people, which takes you away from compassion and love, and thus away from God. It undermines your spiritual fitness.


Rather than helping us better to mourn — to see the suffering in the world with an open heart — watching the news regularly hardens our hearts. In order to face so much suffering with no option of relevant action, we detach from it; we tune it out, if you will. 

Check the link for the rest.  
I have to say: several years ago, my wife and I took a cruise.  Every morning, they slipped a news summary under my door, for those who were interested in what was going on out in the real world.  And every morning, I picked it up, ripped it up, and put it in the trash.   
It was one of the nicest vacations in my life.  And I’m sure that is one of the reasons why. 
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posted October 5, 2009 at 2:21 pm

When news casts were 30 minutes long at 6:00 PM and 10:00 PM was the last time things were watched with a sense of scale. A full day was needed for the press to cath the emerging news, giving time for some sense of proportion. The news was news, and dad and mom would catch it for information purpose. Now there is 24/7 wall to wall “news” which is really entertainment and lots of propaganda, ranting and opinion. Before people had to read the op ed to enter into the civic debate; now we react to screaming shouting matches and viceral rantings mascareding as news. Reading requires analysis and some form of education; watching and listening to news requires no effort at all but pulls the buttons of the fight or flight instinct.
I agree with comment, all we need is about 15 minutes of news. The rest we can read in the context of further reading of important texts so we can digest the information in an educated way.

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posted October 6, 2009 at 9:18 am

Last winter I spent a month without the news (making the Spiritual Exercises). I managed without knowing who was in the Super Bowl or that a plane had landed in the Hudson. Fasting from all of that was instructive. I’ve learned that there is much that can be let go – and much that is merely fluffed up to fill the maw that is 24/7 media.

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