Recently , thanks to my son , I got a subscription to The Economist , a magazine that I’ve been reading on and off for years . I like the world view that it provides . It gives me an opportunity to read what the rest of the world thinks on a given subject , not just what we Americans feel . It sheds light on corners of the world that I know little about , places like Turkmenistan and Zimbabwe and Bolivia. And, of course, there is plenty of information on the economic scene … Greece’s monetary troubles , China’s future, the economics of the Arab spring etc. What I appreciate most, perhaps, are the articles on topics such as dissent in Saudi Arabia , religion in Indonesia, the decline of marriage, and the like .
However , barely two months into my subscription , I am beginning to wonder whether all this information is a good thing . I am still interested in it , yes , but so much of it is depressing . For instance, the latest issue of the Economist has articles about California’s budget crisis, the euro crisis, , protests in Bolivia and Chile , repression in China , the fear of financial contagion , and the list goes on . Reading the unfolding litany of disasters in the making , I wonder … would I be happier being ignorant ?
The Economist of course is unbiased ( or as close to unbiased as it is possible to be ) in its reporting . I have no doubt that its macro view of world economics and trends is correct . However , since I cannot do anything about these issues , am I perhaps better off burying my head in the sand and just concerning myself with only the things that affect my life ?
As many have remarked before , there is a tendency among local newspapers and TV stations to focus on news items that will shock and horrify. Local news is full of stories about accidents , crashes , robberies and murders , protests and disasters . Happy news stories are far and few between , and they are buried in the avalanche of bad news.
I know that I’m not the only one who is bothered by this . I am reminded of something that happened about thirty years ago in New York City. The owner of the Allied Chemical Tower in Times Square ( that’s what it was called thenr
His fiat lasted only about a month . It was made known to him that his audience , the pedestrians in Times Square, didn’t find his news compelling and that they preferred the “real” news , with fires and invasions and building collapses and the like . Apparently , he and I are in a minority.
My dissatisfaction with the news is cyclical . I get fed up with the negative news and I confine myself to the sports pages. In a month or less , I revert to reading the front pages only to get upset again . This time though I don’t have that option . The two main sports that I follow , pro basketball and pro football, are on the verge of being suspended for the season . The owners and the players in both the NBA and the NFL are at loggerheads and it’s no fun reading about the fruitless contract negotiations . As for baseball , I don’t find it interesting until the playoffs . There is Wimbledon tennis , of course , but that isn’t enough .
I may have to go back to reading the Economist , trying to cull the positive news from the rest.