Rod Dreher

At least for news, says Matt Steinglass. Excerpt:

Kevin Drum reminds us that the outsized influence of cable TV news is bizarre, since its ratings are abysmal. Average Americans simply don’t watch it. They watch “American Idol”. As Matthew Yglesias points out, the only people who do watch cable TV news all the time are political professionals. But what’s truly absurd is that those political professionals don’t watch it because they think they’ll learn something substantive. (It is physically impossible to learn anything substantive by watching cable TV news. It’s like trying to grow muscles by drinking Coke.) Rather, they watch it because they think it will keep them in touch with what average Americans are watching.

When I was at the Dallas Morning News, all of us on the editorial board had TVs on our desks, or at least in our offices. When we first got them, I left mine on CNN all day; a glitch in the cable line into my office meant I couldn’t get Fox or MSNBC. When that was eventually fixed, I tried Fox, but got tired of its politicized slant on the news. Eventually, I just turned off the TV entirely, because it was repeating the same stuff all day long, and it was interfering with my ability to pay attention to what I was reading on the Internet. As Steinglass goes on to say, the cable news format cannot bring real understanding to issues as they play out in the real world. The more I would sit at my desk and read stories from newspaper and magazine sites, as well as opinion from bloggers on the left and the right whose views I respected, the more irritated I would get with cable news for oversimplifying everything.
I was at my mom and dad’s house earlier this year, and watched a couple of hours of Fox, which happened to be on. It was ridiculous. It’s not that I disagreed with what I heard (though I did, with some of it) as much as the way the news was framed and presented irritated me, because it seemed to present information, often sexed up, without any real attempt at conveying understanding. The only reasons we had cable TV back in Dallas was so the kids could watch PBS Kids in the mornings, and so cable news would be available to us in the event of some sort of breaking event. When we moved to Philly, we decided against cable TV. I get all my news now either from the morning newspaper, public radio on the drive to and from work, or from the Internet (I’d say 80 percent of it). Not only do I think I’m not missing a thing, I suspect I probably gain in understanding by its lack. Your mileage may vary.
(H/T: Andrew Sullivan)

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