Our Social World

Where Do You Get Your News From?

Where do you get your news from? - graphic of a newspaper

The internet has made news accessible on a scale that would have been unimaginable when I was a kid. However, the wealth of available news isn’t necessarily a good thing. With so many options, where do you get your news from?

Traditional media

My parents were keen tv news watchers, so I grew up being used to the presence of that at home. I continued watching the 6:00 local evening news for a lot of my adult life, and only stopped a few years ago when I discontinued my cable tv service.

Does anyone read actual paper newspapers anymore? In a way, it’s a shame that people (including myself) aren’t willing to pay for that kind of journalism anymore. It means that we’re going to newspapers’ websites expecting to get content for free, which can’t happen because journalists need to get paid, so there are ads galore (very few things online are ever actually free). I think all of the competition for viewers’ eyeballs tends to lead to more clickbait titles. After all, it’s hard to get noticed amidst the onslaught. However, I’m cheap, and I don’t want to have to pay for all of the news I consume. I make the choice not to pay, and ads are the cost of that.

For the last couple of years, my main source of info on current events has been the CBC News app. The CBC is Canada’s public broadcaster, and they don’t tend to be overly sensationalistic. The app gives a snapshot of what’s going on without bombarding me with a ton of information, and it doesn’t usually show me loads of stories about the same terrible issue going on in the world.

Online sites galore

If you have a special interest, someone’s probably writing about current events in that area. I think a risk that you run with getting a lot of news from niche sites is that it can create a skewed view of what’s happening the world. Every platform has to pick and choose what they’re going to show you, but if you avidly follow something like the Human Rights Watch account on Twitter, you’re going to see a different view of the world than you would if you primarily consumed more general news sources.

Social media

One of the many things I dislike about Twitter is its attempts to shove news in your face. I think Facebook does this too, although I’m not on FB, so I don’t actually know that for sure. I feel very confident that social media platforms will never give a balanced offering. That’s not what they’re trying to do; they’re trying to lock in eyeballs for advertisers. On a side note, I think telling people what’s trending is bad for humanity.

Surveys conducted by Pew Research in 2021 found that 48% of Americans get news from social media sometimes or often, and 31% of Americans regularly get news from Facebook. Among Twitter users, 55% regularly get news from Twitter.

News feeds

I heard recently from Paula and Melanie that Microsoft likes to shove news feeds in people’s faces. I’ve turned off news feeds everywhere I possible can. I don’t want news getting shoved in my face, particularly a collection of clickbait-y headlines from a bunch of different sources. I don’t want it, and I don’t want products that try to force it on me. In general, I don’t like things to be pushed at me. I want to be the one in charge; if I want something, I’ll go look for it, thank you very much.

I’ve mostly been successful at keeping news feeds out of my life. Twitter is the place I find least controllable. I use Safari and Chrome as my browsers, and they’re not showing me anything like that. I’ve also set up my iPhone so it doesn’t show any kind of unwanted feed.

Entertainment sources

There are two late-night comedy shows I watch, The Daily Show with Trevor Noah and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. I stream them on tv network sites, usually the day after broadcast. They talk about current events, but it’s satirical, and they’re not making any attempt to be unbiased. There are lots of things I first hear about on those shows, but I don’t expect them to give me the full picture. If there’s an issue that interests me, I use what those shows have talked about as a starting point to go look for further information on actual news sites.

News vs. opinion/commentary

I may be wrong about this, but it seems like some people have a hard time distinguishing between reported stories and opinion/commentary columns or shows, especially when it comes to American cable networks. Someone like Tucker Carlson on Fox isn’t reporting the news; he’s a douchebag talking about his opinions (just like the douchebag part is my opinion, no matter how convinced I am that it’s a fact). In terms of competition for viewers’ eyeballs, sensationalistic opinions are probably going to get more attention, and thus bring in more ad review, than neutral, good old-fashioned reporting.

There’s nothing wrong with reading opinions and commentary, but I do think it’s a problem if people read/view it and interpret it as neutral reporting. There’s already a lot of perception that the media is biased, and if opinion is coming across as reporting, it’s likely to feed into that. I’m not sure if the issue is lack of clarity on the part of news sources or limited media literacy on the part of Joe Doofus; probably it’s some of both.

Managing news and sanity

It may be hard to tone down the amount of news we’re exposed to, but I do think it’s worth trying. There’s a lot of shitty stuff going on in the world, and the media is a lot more likely to tell you about the shitty stuff than the good stuff. Life can be stressful enough without the news, plus all the shouting about it on social media, getting in your face. Mental health should be a higher priority than being on top of the latest goings-on.

It’s easy to get lulled into a sense that it’s just too in-your-face for it to be possible to disconnect, but I think there are options; it just takes a bit of effort to figure out what they are. That might mean getting a browser that doesn’t force a news feed in your face, or perhaps cutting down on social media use or accounts that you follow.

While it would be nice if all of the assorted companies stopped trying to shove news in our faces, realistically, I think that’s highly unlikely. That leaves it up to us to figure out our own ways to manage our exposure, and make choices about whether to passively put up with it or try to be proactive and do something about it.

Where do you get your news from, and what strategies do you use to manage the onslaught and maintain sanity?

60 thoughts on “Where Do You Get Your News From?”

  1. I use to watch the evening news religiously but I don’t anymore Bavaria it’s the same watered down stories. I use an app called news break which funnels news stories to me but I’ve learned they are not so accurate so you really need to have a thinking cap on if it’s sensational or actually fact driven. I also use YouTube for true crime news and commentary. I feel my country is struggling right now and I don’t know anymore where the truth lies so I can’t take it all in politically.

  2. I get most of my news by listening to my co workers. I see a little bit on my social media, but, I stopped actively following the news years ago. I was on a 6 month course down the the US a few years ago, and the news was just filled with murder after murder after more bad news after murder. It was too much. A few years ago I got into an argument with my mom: she was a news junkie. The TV was left on all day to a24 hour news channel. She thought it was outrageous that I didn’t follow the news: especially the world news ( Trump and N Korea were comparing pee pee sizes at that point). She actually got mad at me. The point is: it’s 90 percent negativity. The news rallies around all that is bad. I’m in the military: I am a soldier. If there is something on the world front that effects us: rest assured I will already know about it. But she didn’t like that answer. She has been in a nursing home for 3 years now with dementia. Her mind is trapped 60 -70 years in the past. It seems to have found the better memories at least. I’ve never actually seen the TV on in her room when I visit. At least she won’t spend her last years ruminating on what’s going on in the world today.

    1. Having a news channel on all the time seems like a good way to say goodbye to one’s sanity. I like that approach of getting news through coworkers. Who needs to be exposed to all that negativity.

      My grandma has dementia, and her mind is also stuck in the distant past and focused on the good memories.

  3. Yep. I no longer use the Microsoft browser Edge because of their aggressive newsing. I like the Google aggregate news and also CNN/ABC. But to be honest, these days I’m not reading stuff in depth. There’s just too damn much and a huge part of it is irrelevant garbage!

    1. So true. I suspect that the internet has led to an increased quantity but decreased quality. The need to fit things into a newspaper or news broadcast no longer does anything to restrict the amount of garbage that’s published.

  4. My news is the global news internet site, here in Canada.
    I am very pleased that you took the time to express the distinction between, reported news and commentary on the news. I think that is a critical distinction that seems to be fading into the distance.
    Great share and covered si well from several angles. Thank you Ashley Leia.

  5. I studied journalism in college and was told I should be subscribed to EVERY news newsletter in my country. I’m down to just one now that I don’t even read. I don’t actively look for news anymore, it comes to me through family and whenever M wants to listen to it in the car. It’s all doom and gloom and I don’t need that.

  6. About half a decade ago, I began to read The Art of Thinking Clearly by Rolf Dobelli. That last chapter was about the news: it’s penchant for sensationalism at the cost of the profound. I realised that much of what was said rang true with me, so I stopped entertaining them. I agree with the result the writer experienced,

    “Clearer thoughts, more valuable insights, better decisions, and much more time.”

  7. For world news I have several apps on my phone that give me notifications about current events. For stocks and trading, I have a couple of Youtube channels who I trust to share truthful information. I watch them daily.

  8. Thanks for your post. My husband and I are a few of the last hold-outs who watch PBS and later NBC news after dinner. I am sure we are in the minority.

    What I would say about niche news is that there’s always someone following what your niche is — or almost always. There is a parallel here that I experience. In today’s world there is always a specialist for everything. If you have an ear ache the pediatrician sends you to an Ear Nose and Throat specialist. If your power goes out, you don’t call the handyman, you call the electrical repair specialist. If your car’s transmission goes out, you don’t go to the local car repair shop you go to a place that specializes in transmissions.

    In today’s world, everyone is referred to the specialist. I am not sure what that says about our news intake and uptake except perhaps we run the risk of validating and reinforcing our differing points of view in this process rather than emphasizing our commonalities or common concerns? If my niche is always front and center somewhere, I never really have real need of questioning this niche or groundtruthing it with additional or other points of view? Does that make any sense at all?

    1. That absolutely makes sense, and it connects well with confirmation bias, a cognitive bias that makes it likely that we will seek out and believe things that are consistent with what we already know and believe.

  9. We don’t regularly consume news. We have topics we are sometimes interested in and get email newsletters that have information, often factual about the nature world or legislation, or they link to news sources (usually local to our area) on these topics

    We try to understand if a site we’re visiting tends to be liberal or conservative or pretends to be unbiased. Sites we have read are for major newspapers: New York, Washington, LA, London. One reason we don’t get the newspaper is because it’s quite expensive relative to even a few years ago and much of the content is reused and rehashed over and over in the local paper.

    We do not watch tv news ever, with two exceptions: presidential election tallying and emergency weather (for us, tornadoes).

    We appreciate not knowing the latest mass shooting, political scandal, war, weather somewhere else. We have enough on our plate trying to stay alive in our own skin

  10. I get The Washington Post delivered, so, yeah, old school, a paper newspaper. I have an online subscription to The New York Times and that’s it for me. My husband watches the local news at 6pm and then World News Tonight at 6:30pm, I hear some of those stories as I’m doing evening chores. I’ll sometimes Google a particular story or person if it interested me and I want follow up but I only click on “reliable” sites. I don’t use Twitter and my FB feed contains my 11 friends (which includes a cat) plus a few pet pages. So, I’m not much of a consumer of random news sources.

  11. My news comes from Reddit and my wife. But, I don’t look at any plebes or political stuff on Reddit (I’ll say that). It’s the occasional mentioning of something current, that I’ll hear about and then talk to my wife, who seems to be able to handle the news much better than I.

      1. Reddit is fantastic. It has very sort of interest you can imagine and they are called subreddits. It literally took me 5 years from first hearing about it to looking at it daily. Lots happened in between with my desire to use the platform. I really like it. Also, it is mostly liberally based. But, there are definitely conservatives and other belief systems represented there. It’s a good mix of information. Did I say it was fantastic? You should check it out.

  12. My mom gets the Toronto Star delivered and she likes it that way. 🙂

    I go to online, but only sparingly. I rarely watch tv. I prefer to seek out what I need to know than to be told what I need to know.

  13. I really enjoyed reading the comments and the post itself. Thanks for starting the conversation and shedding more and more light on mental health concerns.

  14. 95% of the news I read or watch is on the BBC, which generally does not seem to take political sides. But even the Beeb are sometimes not always accurate. I have seen reports that I knew were incorrect in some ways. I just don’t trust any other news site as much as I do the Beeb. So….there we have it, I prefer the Beeb, even though I have seen them get it wrong sometimes.

    I limit how much news I watch. Definitely. It’s all a bit futile sometimes. I do like to be aware. But what I worry about the news is the focus on the negative and lack of attention on positive solutions. When they do bring out something to cheer people up….it is sometimes a cute polar bear sliding on the ice….which is sweet, but doesn’t quite alleviate the anxiety levels caused by the proceeding reports.

  15. The only current-events-porn I allow myself to indulge in is “Breaking Points with Krystal and Sagar”. It’s both a podcast and a YouTube show (same content, podcasts are just audio only) and is run by two journalists who used to work for The Hill but decided to go independent around the beginning of this year. Everyone is biased, but they at least don’t pick an ideology to follow and tend to call everyone out on their bullshit equally. That can be draining, though, because you realize quickly that the world is doomed and there’s nothing anybody can do about it. Lol

  16. I don’t know Tucker Carlson but I think your judgement is pretty apt so let’s call him a douchebag.

    Our local newspaper has a website that’s so hard to use because it’s bloated with ads that it’s a test of patience to read even a single story. You can’t scroll down because it keeps jumping as new ads load, and big ads actually cover half the headline stories sometimes. I’ve never seen a site quite that bad for ad content.

    I think I’ve overdone the news of late. I actually said it again to my mum this evening that maybe I need a blackout. Every time I read it – granted a tabloid app on my iPad is where the most irritating stuff comes from because it’s about how shite our government is – I feel like I’m caught between a panic attack and an angry heart attack. I just get way too wound up. I used to think that being aware of what’s going on around you and in the wider world was a good thing, but now I think I could do without knowing a lot of this and embracing “ignorance is bliss” on occasion.

    When it all gets too much, I just put my head in a blender.

  17. Great post. I have a roller coaster relationship with news. Sometimes I have to complete detox for a few months because of my anxiety. Lately, I just get the audible digest each day from the new york times. I’m into finance, but the wall street journal is too conservative slanting for me. I love trevor noah! Have you read his book? I highly recommend.

  18. Tradition media- I still go through them…just headlines alone…since I want to keep updated

    Online sites- I waste not my time.

    Social media- I am proud to tell the I just stick to WP and I am peaceful 24 hours a day.

    News feeds- A big no.
    Comfortable with Google Chrome Web browser since it never pops up news!!

    Entertainment sources- not my type.

    News vs opinions commentary- news- from traditional sources
    Opinions- not interested.
    Either it deppresses you or boils your blood.

    End result- I am saner 100%
    enjoying my life 100%

    Thank you Ashley

  19. I don’t read newspapers regularly because they’re actually not objective newspapers in my nation. Sometimes I read online news articles by them and other international sources. My nation literally shuts down alternative news sites and sues their staff into bankruptcy. So I read those but don’t share because yes, that has landed folks into legal trouble.

      1. Yeah, there’s a history of detention without trial too but I don’t blog about politics/government policies even though I’m affected. Unless yknow, I got help with my medical bills from the government, so something positive.

  20. So honestly I use almost every single one of these things minus the paper lol. Idk I don’t know why I wouldn’t spend the $1.25 for it but I just don’t. I really like to get all angles of the news and then go on a much deeper dive into whatever it is and find out the facts and separate opinions from facts. I don’t like to collect things and it not be the actual facts. I like to have the facts incase of a situation it’s brought up in conversation I am not trying to look all stupid lol. I like commentary for the passing of ideas to create not another narrative but just see what other people have going on with thoughts. I like to hear what other people are thinking and coming up with on their own.

  21. Years ago back in the 80’s, l used to be a regular reader of USA Today and that was the only paper l read in England oddly enough until the mid 90’s. A few years ago, a neighbour was giving me his Daily Mail newspaper after he had finished with it. But the last time l read an actual newspaper was probably March 2019.

    I tend to ignore the stuff online, and IF l am hankering for some actual news l will watch Channel 4 News on the television and l guess on average l might watch a news programme once every couple of weeks.

      1. Do you know what Ashley? it really is, l really feel comfortable with keeping a very small number of friends on my blog. The business blog will be different as a Blog anyway, but the Guy blog as a personal blog is really just a friends’ only blog to me. Yes l have a lot of followers, but l recently went through my friends list or l should correct that to ‘followers’ list and removed all the ones in black as in blogs that no longer exist and my number dropped by just over 100.

        I am considering going through the list of followers again and removing many more.

          1. Yes and that’s exactly it, the ‘actaul real number’ of engagers is about that % of all blogs l feel and l think that 5 has dropped in the last year alone as well. I remember seeing more engagement from people as little as 2 years ago, the %’s were higher then, not now.

            1. I ran a similar journey a few months back when l was in the process of really cutting this blog down and even made mention to it in one of my posts at the time, that readers are no longer interactine on the social community basis that they used to.

              Maybe, that’s a post subject for you somewhere in the future Ashley.

              I think that there is now so much data overwhelm for readers, that what is happening is almost a kind of social reversal of how people are. and more blogs may have higher followings but they themselves don’t have the time to interact the same way.

              the other thing l have noticed happen in the last ten years in various platforms from gaming, to blogging to social media and to forums and that is it used to be areas of definition and now there is an a lot of cross contamination [that sounds terrible] but what l mean is that as platforms become more commercial and more greedy for money and stance and style they approach the market very differently and so they encourage different demographs into their platform. this means sadly that we then see people here, that the platform initially wasn’t designed for — if you see what l mean.

              Some writers are bloggers
              Some writers are great on forums
              Some are great on social media

              Now they are all mixed up.

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