Perhaps the state of news has been this way for years and I've never noticed it, but I've come to the conclusion that all of the websites I used to read to stay up to date and informed on world events have devolved into tabloids, covering the same stories over and over with the same characters and with the same tone of abject incredulity. This is true not only of "left-leaning" sites like The Guardian, but those on the right as well. Fingers are being pointed. Wars of words are being waged. Real news is being buried before it even has a chance to surface for air.
Every so often, I've felt an incredible desire to pare down where I get my news from. This often happens when the information I'm receiving no longer plays a direct role in any part of my life, as it was for sites like Engadget and The Verge many years ago, or when the quality of writing has noticeably declined to the point where a blog written by a teenager lacking life experience offers a better read, as is seen with the tripe found on the Financial Times' half-written website. Occasionally, the urge to reduce the number of news sources is so strong that I opt to just leave them all behind for a week or two or five, choosing to instead put my time into watching paint dry. Going back to the news after abstaining for a month often shows that very little changes from day to day. The same characters are in the news vying for attention with "more outrageous stuff we wouldn't believe". The same countries are being destroyed by internal or external enemies. The same companies are chipping away at what little pseudo-liberties the common person has.
And what value do I get from reading this stuff? I've given up reading anything involving the US Government and the members of the new administration to save my vision from all the eye rolling. I've stopped reading anything about the Canadian government as well, since every journalist with semi-permanent employment seems to have an axe to grind with a politician because of what they're not doing. Sites dedicated to technology fare a little better, but seem to be bought and paid for with all the sponsored content masquerading as objective think pieces. It's true that news sites need to do what's necessary to keep the lights on, but when several $60 a year subscriptions to various sites does not offer any sort of value in return, I have to wonder if I'm the target audience anymore.
But I'm probably not.
I don't click links to lists, or "amazing things I wouldn't believe", or anything else that sounds like a sugar cereal commercial intro. I don't watch minute-long videos for 10 seconds of content and 30 seconds of ads. I don't "like" on Facebook or "tweet" things to people on Twitter1. A large portion of what is found on the front pages of news sites around the world, in English and in Japanese, are little more than tabloid material with "a premium brand name" attached.
So where does this leave me to stay informed and otherwise try to understand the context behind world events? I wish I knew. Evening news can fill some of the void, but there's very little depth in most TV reporting, it seems. Physical newspapers contain stories that come across as outdated before they even reach the printing press, and are often poor copy/paste jobs from the website right down to the underlined text signifying an unclickable link2. Radio or podcasts for news? No. Non-starters. All of them. Which leads me to wonder if perhaps I'm just no longer interested in what news organizations — that I know of — have to offer.
Like a customer who has grown tired of the menu at an oft-frequented restaurant, I want something different. Since I won't get this from the usual places, maybe it's time to simply leave it all behind until someone introduces me to something more interesting. If nothing else, this should free up a little bit more time and maybe even help drop the blood pressure a few points.
Am I just overthinking this? Am I seeing a problem in the news that doesn't exist?