Saturday, May 4, 2024


I only buy one physical newspaper each week...

Should I remain someone that consumes as much news as I do? I certainly read, watch and listen to enough news to ask that question, but I have started feeling like I need an answer.

My average weekday begins by turning on my phone as soon as I wake up – I have a separate alarm clock – to read the front pages of a list of news and social media websites: in order, BBC News, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Mastodon, Threads, the LGBT+ sites PinkNews (UK) and The Advocate (US), CNN, The Times (of London), The Telegraph, The Spectator, the New Statesman, The Guardian and The New York Times. Having completed Wordle on the last of these sites, about twenty minutes will have passed, and I am now ready to get out of bed and face the day.

This choice of sites is deliberately meant to be a broad range, including places that don’t fit my own politics. The objective is to see what truly the most important stories are, which stories are more important to each site, notice any trends and, importantly for me, read anything interesting – I am always looking for subjects to talk about, and you can’t expect these to come to you. The only reason I don’t look at the “Daily Mail” website, apparently the most-read news website in English, is because their front page has too many stories on it to discern what is meant to be important.

Once out of bed, I will put on the television to watch “Breakfast” on BBC One while I get ready for work, and once I have left the house, the news bulletins interrupting Lauren Laverne’s breakfast show on BBC Radio 6 Music will be the next source of news, unless I am looking at other stories on my phone while listening. This will continue at various points throughout the day even after I get home – a house tradition is to watch the ITV Evening News after the regional stories have played, but upon its doubling in length to an hour in March 2022, the television is consciously switched to another channel at the half-hour mark, ending my news for the day, provided I have put my phone down.

Perhaps I wouldn’t have a problem if I didn’t feel the need to check my phone so much, but having realised it has become my main source of news, it has become unavoidable. Short hourly news bulletins have evaporated from the main television channels, and I avoid opinion-led discussions of the news on TV, preferring to make my own mind up.

The issue that means I consume too much news is defining what it means to be “informed”. Requiring a broad range of sources for news means my own requirements are very high. I wouldn’t choose one channel, site or bulletin to serve as my single source, but if I was to reduce the number of places I search for news, it would feel like reducing my horizons, or not challenging my opinions enough. It may well be that I am thinking about this now because I am reaching my upper limit.

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