Stephen Chapman

The second incarnation of my blog

SD 16th May 2016

aaeaaqaaaaaaaaeqaaaajdq2zwrjowniltyzmzytngzhys1hzwfkltbmogy0nwmwzwrkywStop the press!

There’s an easy fix that I guarantee* will make you feel a little better about yourself and the world around you, for as long as you want.

I will warn you in advance, it’s not one of those “27 easy steps to ultimate zen-like super-happiness” things, as this one actually works.  It’s easy to try, so I invite you to play along… for just a day or two if you wish.

I have just three words of instruction for you:

Avoid the News.

That’s it… just stop reading and watching the news for a couple of days.  You may be concerned that you will fall apart without your knowledge-fix, but I find it removes unnecessary stress from life, saves time and frees up the brain for more creative pursuits.  As I’ve guaranteed its success, I suppose I should explain my thinking.

In general, I conclude that news falls into 6 broad areas:

  1. Depressing things you have no control over.
  2. Gossip (both political and z-list celebrities).
  3. Potentially significant but lacking detail or accuracy.
  4. Skewed by a hidden (or obvious) agenda.
  5. Irrelevant filler.
  6. Important stuff.


Unfortunately, point 6 represents a tiny proportion of todays’ output and we all end up sifting through a great deal of hay before we find the needle.  In these days of 24 hour coverage, there is so much space to fill, editors take information and dress it up as news, so you miss the important items anyway.

But the best part of this is, if it’s important, you will find out about it anyway.  Someone will tell you, you will catch a headline (and choose to read more) or will find it using technology.  Despite actively avoiding newspapers and TV programmes for set periods, I don’t feel that I am missing out on current affairs and seem to have a grasp on world events because I am far more selective.

Most of the time I want relevant, interesting and engaging content that isn’t skewed by media owners, so I use technology – this is modernisation in action!  I favour Flipboard, Digg and Google Alerts:

Flipboard allows me to select topics and I pick up a small number of articles to read at my leisure on my iPhone.  I can save favourites and as many of these are independent articles and essays, they tend to be high quality.

For feeds from websites and blogs, I use Digg.  The content here is very specific to my interests and I have added and deleted many dozens of feeds over the years.  I rate the best articles (i.e. digg them).

I also use Google Alerts for a very small number of topics and I receive emails with links when stories are placed in traditional and online news sources.  For example, every few days I receive an email with a list of news items that feature the specific phrase “Standard Life Wrap” or “Crystal Palace football”.

Please don’t waste time watching BBC News repeatadly tell you about something irrelevant to your life (that’s number 5 if you are paying attention). It’s just adding stress to your day which I can guess you don’t need.


* guarantee is not binding so if you don’t feel mentally lighter within a day, try chocolate instead.


[Originally posted on LinkedIn]


One comment on “SD 16th May 2016

  1. Andrew Brown
    May 17, 2016

    Taking a break from the consumption of news can be good – I find the occasional news-free day a real relief.

    (Although one of the ironic things about being involved in local politics is that you get caught up in a campaign to such an extent that you barely consume any other new anyway!)

    I do have a word of caution about the self-service approach to consuming news, though:

    The trick about choosing your diet of news is not just to be selective – but to select from eclectic sources and to read views with which you disagree. Without a mechanism for achieving this, there is a risk of falling into the trap of only interacting with – and therefore of reinforcing – a world-view that is at odds with the country at large.

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This entry was posted on May 16, 2016 by in Something different, work and tagged , , .

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