Ms ZiYou I give a f*ck about the news

Why I give a f*ck about the news

I am lucky.Ms ZiYou news I was born to a white middle-class family in a wealthy country. Education was readily available to me without excessive cost. I have been supported to live my dreams.

These and many more privileges have allowed me to become rich and a dollar millionaire by 37.

But not everyone has been so fortunate.

Capitalism can be good

I am very happy to extoll the benefits of capitalism, easily a much better system than the feudalism that preceded it. It encourages people to try their best, contribute and work hard, which are all good things. But on the other hand, it fails to protect people from predatory individuals and those who through no fault of their own are not able to contribute. Moreover, capitalism is also susceptible to a tremendous amount of bias. And class mobility is not significantly better than feudalism.

But alas it needs controls and a safety net

As you may expect, there are some serious limitations with a system that rewards the individual at the expense of all others. Hence we need to curb the worst of capitalism in order to prevent exploitation and protect consumers.

Most people agree that a welfare safety net is also beneficial to all. And that the principle of helping out those less fortunate is the right thing to do. However, opinions differ on the amount of the safety net and method of implementation.

In most developed countries, the government provides these functions. We have a welfare state and laws that are agreed and decided upon by the government.

And the media policies them

It’s not said often enough, but journalists are ace. An underrespected profession, that aims to bring you the facts in the news as well as additional opinion pieces. Moreover, as well as passing on press releases, the media adds additional details, context and highlights inconsistencies. They press the government and organisations for details and report back.

Trusting the media?

Ms ZiYou Media

While it’s well known the news media is partisan, by consuming a variety of sources you can get the full picture. Most mainstream outlets always publish facts but achieve their slant by selective inclusion of said facts and layering on opinion on top. As they say, you can misuse all statistics to give the outcome you desire – and the same is true of the news.

But in my opinion, that doesn’t mean we should distrust the media. They have a vital role in holding organisations and governments everywhere to account. The news media will act on tips offs and investigate potential issues and concerns, providing a vital public service. Not many people have the resources to perform that level of investigation independently – and the media helps to get issues that impact all sorts of people noticed.

Cultural Expectations are Changing

Society is always progressing in a developed nation. We are learning more about people and the world, and instigate changes to improve the world.  What was considered the norm in the Victorian era is now considered inappropriate. We don’t send children up chimneys any more or have them working in mills.

Some changes are easy to adapt to and need no government intervention, such as the move to smartphones. Others need government legislation passed, such as giving women and poor men the right to vote.

Bias Abounds Everywhere

Ms ZiYou Social Media

The world is built on bias. We all are socialised to have biases. It’s part of our upbringing and culture. We are taught to differentiate people and put people into different categories – good people and bad people – and lots of these internal rules are based on biases.

Now as society progresses, are we challenging these biases enough? I’d state no. It’s frankly shocking that black boys born in the inner city are more likely to go to jail than a university. How is that fair? Not to mention the met policies stop and search results which show I’m very unlikely to be stopped and searched.

Standing Up

As I am now rich and very comfortable, I could avoid all the news in the world and the current affairs. Due to my wealth, education and flexibility, it is unlikely any changes in the world would impact me personally that much. I am adaptable and can easily adapt to change.

But others can’t. And they are in less fortunate positions than me – and they have to focus on their core needs. They are using all their energy to keep going in this hard world, as life is much harder for them.

I feel I need to stand up. Some people are not being treated fairly, and I have a voice. Moreover, I intend to use that voice. I like to stay informed and regularly make my views know. I email my MP all the time and happily sign petitions that I believe in.

There needs to be more people willing to stand up and challenges these everyday bias – such as racism and the patriarchy. And I’ve not even started mentioning all the other biases that abound in our society.

Hence I consume news

I want to be connected with my fellow humans. I want to know both the progress we are making in the world alongside the terrible things that humans are doing to each other. Current affairs matters to me – they are the human side of the world.

Ms ZiYou news

And I need the media to provide me with the information from the news – I cannot source all that information myself. I read carefully and critically, noting potential biases and slants. I will happily make up my own opinion and gather more details on topics that interest me.

Finally – social media gives us new tools to use to share our opinions and solicit feedback. Used wisely, I feel social media is a great tool for connecting with people and learning about the world outside your echo chamber. As with all tool, there are downsides that you also need to take into account.

Against the Ostrich approach

You could stick your head in the sand. And just not care about current affairs – such as the Tim Ferriss Low Information Diet. There is no doubt that makes you a more productive person, but does it make you a better person?

I’d argue that as a lucky privileged person you should care. It’s not about you personally, but about the others that are less fortunate. After all, we all have to live together in society.

So, what sort of society do you want that to be?

Over to you

  • What are your thoughts?
  • Do you read the news?
  • Why do you consume the news?

Thank you for reading – please leave a comment below and join in the conversation. You can also connect on Twitter or contact me privately.

32 comments on “Why I give a f*ck about the news

  1. When I was 10 I would get up early in the morning to watch the news before trudging through the rain to catch the school bus. I have always loved the news. Weather, sports and current events, it didn’t matter. Nowadays I have opted to not watch the news as much with the exception of financial news. Drugs, shootings and politics seem to steal the show. You have a very good point though, the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t.

  2. I used to watch the news all the time but have tried to cut it back in the last few years as it used to wind me up. Now I try to just keep a general view of what is going on in the world and also in the financial world.

  3. I’ve not had a TV for years but I listen to Radio 4 on the way to/from work.
    A lot of people think that that MSM is bad but end up filling their heads with all sorts of nonsense and are worse than tin foil haters I think.
    Chomsky is a good place to start for understanding the media.
    What I would agree with is that you should certainly not pay too much attention to things that are only designed to appeal to your reptilian brain – FEAR, WORRY, STRESS and avoid the Daily Mail if you are at all sensible.

    I do enjoy reading a sunday paper – or used to anyway. 🙂 and what I would say is that good journalists have the time to research and do the thinking and analysis for me – much like authors but you can enjoy it over coffee and a croissant and turn the page if you get fed up. Bloggers like me are just rubbish in comparison. 🙂

    1. Hi GFF – I love that you are a fellow TV free zone.

      And yeah – maybe I should have added that very little good ever comes from reading the Daily Mail.

      Real papers? That seems so old-fashioned nowadays. Apart from the free papers that they throw at you in London.

  4. Thank you for this post! So often have I heard that if you want to be productive, avoid the news. That is so wrong. We are not only employees,inverters, and consumers; we are citizens. That means we have a responsibility to know what is happening in our world, and to do something about it. When I had health insurance, I still went to rallies in support of Medicaid expansion because many people still didn’t ( I live in the States, btw.). I guess I could have buried my head in the sand, and spent those hours earning money. And no matter how much wealth we create, we won’t enjoy it once the earth becomes uninhabitable due to climate change. We have the right, and the obligation, to be informed and to fight for the world in which we want to live.

  5. Hi Ms Zi You, a thought provoking post. Thanks for sharing. I’ve been mulling over it this morning.

    I think you are right that there’s a risk to running an extreme ‘low information diet’. That much seems clear from what you’ve articulated in your post. Likewise I think there is a well-made out case against a ‘low-quality information diet’, as you also allude to.

    The ideal would be a high-quality, high-information diet. That would, I suggest, involve ‘going to source’, which as you point out can be quite onerous.

    Given that, I’d recommend a high-quality, low-information diet. Find the best sources of information, for the things you find important and weed out the stuff that is contributing ‘volume’ but not ‘quality’.

    I’m happy to offer recommendations if you’d like.

    1. Hi YFG – yes, indeed it’s a balancing act getting both the right volume and quality of information – and I’m sure what we each want is slightly different as well. I’m ok missing the sports news.

  6. I quite like being an ostrich as I find the news stresses me out. However my partner keeps himself well informed and in turn lets me know any interesting/useful news.

  7. I was always interested in the news as a child and grew up watching it with my parents and reading the daily newspaper my dad used to get.

    At one point, I think in my late 20s or early 30s, the news started to bother me and I felt both overwhelmed and helpless about all the bad stuff going on in the world so I stopped paying attention to it.

    This didn’t last long however as I realised that I still wanted to be aware of current affairs around the world. These days, I’m a lot more laid back and don’t let things bother me too much if it doesn’t directly affect me. I still watch the news if the TV is on, listen to news on the radio, get news Twitter feeds and check out the BBC and Torygraph websites. I read the Daily Mail website for ‘entertaining’ comments on their clickbait articles!

    The past 10 years, I’ve gotten more interested in politics – I wouldn’t say I’m passionate about it but I’d say I’m aware of enough to have a decent opinion. Right now, I find that I skim read a lot just to get the basics. Talking to a friend whose husband has recently retired, one thing he mentioned was that he was able to take his time reading news articles properly and understand things more and this I look forward to doing.

    As per YFG, the key is to weed out the quality articles from all the noisy rubbish and there is a lot of rubbish about! And no, I don’t count sports news as rubbish, it’s often what I check first, followed by financial news haha!

    1. Hi Weenie, that’s interesting that you are also more interested in politics as you get older – I must have been unusual not interested in the news as a child.

  8. “But others can’t. And they are in less fortunate positions than me – and they have to focus on their core needs. They are using all their energy to keep going in this hard world, as life is much harder for them.”

    So true about the privilege that allows you to go ostrich. It would be EASIER for sure, but that doesn’t mean better for all.

  9. Low news diet for me, I’m afraid.

    When I was very poor and growing up, I avidly consumed it, looking for insights on how the world worked (despite a memorable class at school revealing how much news is actually opinion). Later as I got to know some influencers (inc politicians and business people) or was directly involved in events of interest to the media I realised the news was often a shallow and sometimes completely wrong distortion of the situation and facts.

    It is extremely biased in its representation of diverse people and their views. You will only rarely find serious challenges to the status quo. Often it is little more than pantomime. Science coverage is generally appalling and elsewhere makes bizarre decisions around who it gives the oxygen of coverage to. With the focus on negative, it panders to the worst parts of our psychology like an old fashioned version of the dopamine hit you get from checking Facebook likes.

    What finally largely turned me off (I still read the front pages of Guardian, Telegraph & BBC News as well as that relevant to fields I work in – but no TV etc) was the effect it was having on my well being. 24 hour coverage of the very rare examples of disasters/violent crime which occur in a world which is safer and more wealthy than at any point in history is simply toxic to mental health and wholly counter to building a cohesive empowered society.

    1. Hi Greencat – thanks for sharing.

      And yes – I agree that TV news is the devil and I didn’t even consider it was I don’t have a TV and don’t really understand why everyone wants such similar soundbites and no nuance.

  10. Great blog post – thanks very much!

    As a US expat living in the UK (hi!) I feel like I still haven’t found my news ‘home’ in the UK. I don’t really know what it is that I’m looking for, but I haven’t found it in any of the big papers over here, and I have opted out of television. I feel strongly that it is part of my civic duty to be informed, and paying attention to what is happening as reported by the news is a large part of that.

    Post 2016, my thoughts resonate strongly with yours when you say: ‘I feel I need to stand up. Some people are not being treated fairly, and I have a voice. Moreover, I intend to use that voice. I like to stay informed and regularly make my views know. I email my MP all the time and happily sign petitions that I believe in.’

    I also strongly agree with Angela from Tread Lightly, Retire Early’s comment that being able to opt out of the news is a privilege. Certainly there’s a balance to be struck between staying informed so that one can advocate effectively for positive change in the world and being overwhelmed by the deluge of hyper-emotion perpetuated by the news cycle – but a low-information diet implies a level of complacency with the state of the world that I now feel is dangerous.

    1. Hi Cb1nz – welcome to the UK. How have you been finding it? And what papers have you tried?

      And yes, I also think that level of complacency is dangerous results in you living in even more of a bubble.

      1. Ah – my comment is a bit misleading as I’ve been here 10 years now (hoping to get indefinite leave to remain very soon!) but it always lovely to be welcomed 🙂 I love living here and plan to be here for the long term, no mtter how many hoops the Home Office makes me jump through for immigration!

        I read The Economist pretty religiously for a long time, but fell out of love during 2016 when the weekly format didn’t really seem to keep pace with the breathtaking speed of change happening in the world. I enjoy the Guardian’s long reads, but have never felt truly ‘at home’ with their take on the news – it never seems to be as nuanced as I’d like. Whilst I remember growing up with great respect for the BBC World Service in the US (the ‘BBC accent’ plays very well in the US), I find reporting on the BBC website (I don’t have a TV license) to be… disappointingly vapid? Their articles often seem to be simplistic to the point totally confusing the issue. Is it becoming apparent that I’m a details person, who revels in long pages of text and data?? 😉 Also tried the Times – ugh – too pearl-clutchy. I’ve only ever read the odd article from the Independent, and never really read anything from the Telegraph or anything with Daily in its name, so could be missing something. Disappointingly, despite living near one of the more prosperous economic hubs in the UK (not London), I don’t have access to any hard-hitting local reporting either – there just doesn’t seem to be the market for it.

        Interestingly, the Sky News website has had some very good articles that have popped up on my twitter feed recently. Their reporting on the UK housing crisis (arguing that it is in fact 5 different crises) was exactly the sort of work I’m looking for. Have started following the journalists involved on twitter.

        Any recommendations you have of sources of news I have overlooked would be greatly appreciated. Even after being here for 10 years, I still have things to learn about this country!

        1. Well done on lasting 10 years so far – I hope we’ve converted you to the British way of doing things! Sorry to hear the home office is so much red tape.

          Ah, you like details. That is challenging – presuming as an economist fan you read 1843 ? The Financial Times is also quite good, albeit with a business bias very similar to the Economist. The BBC is for the masses and they try hard to appear neutral. The Torygraph or Telegraph is kinda right wing but still a good read if you mix it with the Guardian for balance. But having said that they have a paywall now.

          And @Youngfiguy will have some more ideas – he loves detail.

        2. I read a magazine called The Week. It boils down the news into balanced succinct editorials.

          For details I’d recommend Full Fact, a fact checking website/charity that goes into the stats in the news and politics. For an audio version try Radio 4’s More or Less presented by Tim Harford/Ruth Alexander, which examines the numbers behind the news.

          If you are into government / public spending the National Audit Office produces great short summaries of their detailed reports. The Parliamentary Committees also do the same (though not to as good a quality), for example I follow the Work and Pensions Committee publications.

          For investigative journalism, Buzzfeed UK is very good. In particular Emily Dugan who focuses on legal and immigration issues.

          For long form, there’s Aeon and Nautilus. Aeon is more culture based, Nautilus science based. There’s also Moasic, run by the Wellcome Trust charity.

  11. This is great. I often consume news from sources that I don’t agree with because I want to understand other people’s viewpoints. We have to get out of our echo chambers if we are going to affect real change. And we have to know what’s going on in the world to even begin making a difference

    1. Hi Melanie – thanks for reading and commenting.

      I so agree with your approach – we need to get out of echo chambers occasionally, so we understand the whole world, not just our own little bubble.

  12. I don’t watch mainstream or legacy media. When I did, all I saw were stories of the hate crimes and systemic racism being aimed at the leading constituencies of the Democrat Party (blacks, Hispanics, gays, etc.). I never saw stories of the “love legalities” and “systemic kindness” being aimed at these leading constituencies. I also never saw stories of how these leading constituencies sabotaged themselves with incredibly stupid decisions or choices. So at the most, the mainstream media only gave me one-third of the story. I fail to see how getting one-third of the story would make me an informed citizen. But I’m also open to the notion that I got it completely wrong. It might just be that the mainstream media ignore “love legalities,” “systemic kindness,” and self-sabotage because these things are so inconsequential compared to hate crimes and system racism. Damn! No one ever said being a responsible consumer of information was going to be easy. Thanks for this very thoughtful post, Ms ZiYou.

      1. Haha! I do. But I haven’t consumed local news since I moved from Long Island to North Carolina in 2006. I was referring to national news–CNN, MSNBC, New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, Huffington Post, etc. And I haven’t consumed national news since 2014. If these outlets are now focusing more ink and airtime on “love legalities,” “systemic kindness,” and the way people sabotage themselves, it’s time to give them another try. Thanks for making me a little more hopeful, Ms. ZiYou. Cheers.

          1. I love it. First, it finally dawned on me that Ms ZiYou is a Brit. Duh! I’m not the sharpest tool in the tool shed. So she isn’t as familiar with our national news as I originally surmised. With that said, my comments no doubt struck her as thoroughly bizarre. Yet despite this, she responded to me with a lot of class. And I really respect that because that’s what I endeavor to do on my blog. We’re all friends here. And there’s no reason why we can’t disagree with each other in a civil manner. Second, I readily admit I have warped views. I like to describe myself as a freedomist. I want the government out of my bedroom and out of my wallet. But here’s an even more warped view of mine. I don’t consider the people who want a more robust government as evil. I just think they’re wrong–with an emphasis on “think.” There are a lot of brilliant people to the left of me politically, and it would be foolish beyond words to discount what they have to say. I might learn something! Thank you for introducing me to Ms ZiYou. I look forward to reading more of her work in the future. Cheers.

What do you think?