Does reading or watching the news depress you? It does me!!! In fact, I have not watched the news on TV for years. I do not get a newspaper either. I have a couple of news sources on my Google homepage and I scroll through the headlines and choose whether or not to read a story. A lot of the time, it depends on my mood. If I am not feeling too tired or stressed, I might read 5-6 stories. On a bad day, I might read one.
One of the things that has bothered me for years is what is considered priority news. This week it is the death of Whitney Houston. Two weeks ago, it was the Super Bowl and whether or not Payton Manning was staying with the Colts (at least here in Indy). From now until the beginning of May, there will be never-ending stories and ads for the upcoming presidential primaries. If I want to know what is happening in the rest of the world, I often have to turn to BBC or a specific world page. But even then, the stories tend to focus on the Middle East and ignore other countries. For that matter we ignore issues within our own country like poverty, inequality and poor education.
It is easy to blame the news companies for slanting the news, but really they are a business and businesses will cater to the customer. So why is our focus on celebrities first, internal politics second, oil rich countries third and other stories not at all? Oops, I forgot sports, they tend to fall between second and third depending on the person.
Many say that we focus on the tragedies of celebrities because there is some comfort in knowing even the rich and famous suffer as we do. Just look at the influx of “reality” shows. We are now creating celebrities like teen moms just so we can talk about how hard their lives are.
Others believe we focus on things that are close to home because they are in our control so to speak. I have control over whether or not I buy a Whitney Houston CD. Shows are made and cancelled based on the whims of the consumer. Even politics feel sort of in our control because we can vote someone in or out. News of countries far away and issues close to home that appear to have no tie to me economically or physically are out of my realm of control and therefore are not of interest.
We see a picture like the one above and we recognize the truth but we are at a loss of what to do. We can give money to organizations, but how many are they touching? We can take a mission trip, but while that week is helpful, it is just a week.
I suggest we need to make a change of attitude. Instead of letting others dictate what is important and what is not, take a little time to find the truth. One night a week, forgo your nightly game of Bejeweled on Facebook (or whatever is your “time waster”) and Google poverty in America. The Children’s Defense Fund always has up to date stats. Instead of watching a show about the Kardashians this week, visit all the political candidates web pages and see where they stand on improving education and equality in our country and around the world. Be discerning about what newspapers, magazines and TV stations you support through your subscriptions and your time. Search through and see if they are putting any time into issues that matter to you. If not cancel your subscription and tell them why.
As I said, we are a consumer driven country. If we demand a change, a change will happen. But it must start with us!