Rolf has stopped the reading the news, simply because it makes him feel better. A Swiss philosopher, Rolf gave up reading and watching the news years ago, and says he feels better than ever. He is still informed, as people tell him if something really serious happens. His book Stop Reading the News is far more interesting than reading a newspaper, and offers good reasons to do so:
- News is irrelevant. Out of 10,000 stories yearly, how many that you have read – have helped you or others in any way?
- News does not explain. What is the cause of the Syrian war? No joy? No, not for the rest of us either.
- News is like a drug. Twitter feeds are for ‘news drug addicts’. If you want to change something, become a local councillor.
- News wastes time. 15 minutes three times a day is enough time to take an evening course, to train in something you love.
- News makes us passive. How did Hitler come to power? And yet look at how passive journalists are, when asking questions that affect lives.
Press freedom does not mean the freedom of billionaires, to own almost all of it. George Monbiot
Rolf says that since giving up reading the news, he feels calmer and wiser. Reading the newspaper on a regular basis not only can make you biased towards the opinions of journalists (who often are told what to write by others, due to political and financial bias). But it can make you feel bad too. Yoga teacher Steve Ross once wrote that you could meditate in a cave for 10 years – and then come back to normal life, read a newspaper for 10 minutes, and need a therapist! If you are an empath (someone who feels the pain of others), just one quick look at the Guardian’s website for 5 minutes can make you feel sad and traumatised for days, if you find something awful.
Rolf suggests that if you want to stay informed, spend half an hour each week reading a quality digest of what’s happening, rather than ‘rolling news’. Byline Times (print or digital) is a good newspaper from independent editors: they inform – and don’t tell you how to vote.
Like wine, you let it age a little bit. Then you don’t have the immediacy impact anymore. And you will realise that most stuff has kind of disappeared from the radar – so it’s not that relevant. You get a better feel of how the world clicks when you read older newspapers. Rolf Dobelli
90% of everything is crap. Sturgeon’s Law
If you find yourself getting angry or unhappy or depressed because you are reading endless news streams and all of this makes the world seem like hell – well, it might be time to turn it all off. Walk away. Paul Kingsnorth
The Environmental Cost of News
Newspapers obviously come from trees. Some people now read online and a few papers are now wrapped in bio-starch, but none are printed on old junk mail, and most come with trashy supplements. The thinner papers tend to be the trashy ones, the better papers tend to come with unwanted supplements and cost more. If you want a weekly digest, then go for a budget subscription to The I (save 30%, just use vouchers at the newsagent) or a subscription to The Guardian (you can get a weekly magazine of the best articles, and as a charity it doesn’t charge you to read online either).
If you wish to read ‘proper news’ even if it makes you depressed, then go for an independent newspaper with no soundbites from government, or ads that create bias. Some options are:
- The Canary (quality journalism for people & planet)
- Byline Times (intelligent news (they bin press releases)
- Double Day News (an online video news channel, planet-friendly)
- The Critic Magazine (politics, art & literature)
- The Article (free fair journalism with no abuse or morbid images)
- The Real News (a citizen-supported online news channel)
- EuroNews is better than our TV news, with a No Comment feature
Switch to a Happier Newspaper
These are much better! They are less regular (monthly or bi-monthly) but filled with stories of those who are making a difference:
- The Happy News is run in ‘the smallest office in the world’. It’s a little treat, packed with news to make you smile. Good Newspaper (US) is pretty similar.
- Positive News has a newspaper and magazine, often found in indie ‘peace cafes’ and veggie restaurants.
- The Happy Broadcast is a fun site with quick cartoons on what’s happening. The founder is an Italian cartoonist.
When I was a boy and would see scary things in the news, my mother would say, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping’. Fred Rogers
I deleted Twitter and stopped taking in the news entirely. Within the first week I had read two novels… I cannot tell you how more peaceful it feels. There’s more space for reflection. I’m less reactive. If there’s an assassination or a natural disaster heading my way, I’ll find out about it soon enough. And I always know where I stand on moral matters; my values don’t need Apple News to direct my vote. Turn it all off and go do the things that make you happy. Elliequent
These alternative TV news channels, are ideal if you do like to watch regular news programs. Did you know that if you want, you can stop reading and watching the news? It will likely make you feel better. But in truth, most of us do now and then turn on the news to see what’s going on, and these channels will stop you having nervous breakdowns and trauma flashbacks, by the end of your second morning coffee.
The problem with conventional TV news is that it’s well, not very good. The mainstream media arguably could be said to have almost colluded with government to stop them being held to account (the deference towards the party political press conferences during the pandemic has been shocking – they are supposed to hold MPs to account on our behalf). Rolling news tends to go over and over the same thing, believing we must all follow the press release agenda for the day, be obsessed with ‘hugs’ and suffer endless TV ads every 30 seconds (instead of getting upset by big charity shock tactics, switch off the ads and anonymously donate to favourite small charities).
So what are the alternatives? If you don’t have Internet TV (or use Wi-Fi), just buy a scart lead from Argos and plug it into the back of your laptop. Switch your remote to HDMI then turn your laptop around to face the wall, otherwise you’ll get duplicate images and feel like you’re in a TV shop.
- The Real News is a citizen-supported online news channel, created by an American. It’s worldwide with really good ‘serious programs’ and good quality journalists. Most are based where they live (so for instance, a program from Syria will likely have a Syrian journalist reporting). No dire press conferences, just good interviews. No ads, corporate donations or government interference. The difference is there is therefore no bias. So instead of shouting at the TV telling the journalists the questions you want answered – on this channel, the journalists usually ask the same questions that you are asking in your head, as there is no-one to tell them they can’t. Watch this video, to compare with the BBC and Sky News.
- GB News is about to launch. It’s a bit terrifying in that it will be a bit right-wing and some have said it could be like Fox. However, it will be headed up by Andrew Neil (remember Boris Johnson was too frightened to be interviewed by him?) and so it should offer alternatives to present fodder.
- EuroNews is biased towards the EU. But whatever your political views, it’s a good channel. If you’ve ever been to Italy and watched their news, this is quite similar. Rolling news that’s intelligent and about – well – news. Not about interviews with ‘the public’ to fill up time. Proper journalism with in-depth interviews holding politicians to account. At the top of each hour, it offers a mesmerising No Comment: 3 minutes of quality photo-journalism without any words.