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Bad News Blues: Pondering how to make the news good

Today, my faithful and faithless followers, I spend a bit of time writing about the bad news blues. I should be working on a job application, so I can pay for the upkeep of this here Mission to Save the Whole Wide World and Little Old You, but that can keep.

Most mornings I check the news. I read email summaries from The New York Times. (I especially like their Evening Briefing). I pop over to NPR, then to BBC for a bit of an international perspective, and then I indulge in Huffington Post, the Cheetos of news sites. I used to spend more time scanning Facebook for news, because I appreciate the longer format pieces from sites like The Atlantic that some of my friends will post but find that my feed is too full of friends being fooled by fake news, or even worse by bullshit, Anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. Also, I hate that Facebook thinks it knows what I want to see, often it is wrong.

Today, I cannot deal with how many people have posted stills from that video of Mr. Crutcher. I am weary. I want to know the news about Mr. Crutcher, but I don’t want to see countless shots of Mr. Crutcher frozen with his hands up.

Today, I wonder if we were required to write a short paragraph about what in the news we found most compelling, disturbing, and/or informative before we were allowed to post videos and photographs that shock or headlines that hook, would we be more thoughtful about what we post and how we post? I want to be informed. I want daily news and longer form investigative news pieces. I want opinion pieces and profiles. I want hard and soft news. I want some infotainment, but I don’t want the infotainment to be the headlines.

Today, I think the way we are doing news now is bad news for all of us. Capitalist consolidation, the internet and human nature have overemphasized “if it bleeds, it leads.” I don’t have an easy, 10 point with cute GIFs answer, but I think we are going to have to re-invest in and re-invent the fourth estate. I would love to hear what you think we should do to make some good news.

Today, my faithful and faithless followers, I ask you to do some simple things to make help combat the bad news blues. I ask you to be more careful about what you post. To read the article not just the headline. To check the facts. To not be swayed by the emotional gotcha headline. To avoid fake news sites. To consider what it means that, due to the Facebook echo chamber, many of us will see the same painful image over and over and over again.

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