In theory the news is about being informed, becoming aware through gaining a sense of what is happening and possibly shaping one’s life in response.
I remember a time when news was easy. Radio was the closest to being an “in the moment” news source. You could get half hour updates with occasional emergency reports. Television gave us a couple of half hours at dinner and bedtime with a bit more depth. The paper would arrive the next day with more details, including sports scores and game details. Magazines would eventually arrive weekly or monthly as scheduled.
These days it all comes at warp speed and I am pressed to deal with the privilege and responsibility of choosing the news I tune into. There is now an unending number of online sources I touch base with, some by my choosing and others at the nudging of friends. Occasionally I jump on some digital trail that takes me places that rarely seem connected to the beginning.
There have long been discussions about the slant of each source and the limitations of selected medium. My honest evaluation begs the question, “How much do I choose my news to support my beliefs and values or am I trying to gain, and share, a deep and diverse understanding of the what has been, is and possibly might be?”
I have a small following of people who look to me for suggestions and connections. I recommend and they read. I connect people with what they see as cutting edge or a new perspective. A friend once called me a “maven.” People ask me to add others to my “list.” I don’t have a list. Each time I send stuff around, I think about who might be interested. It is inefficient and I doubt I’ll turn it into a moneymaker any time soon. I trust I am usually making my best effort to bring light to cultural moments and forward leanings, hear voices outside the usual circle and push toward understanding new possibilities. Some consider my passing along info is a sign of automatic support. Not true. I hope I am more interested in sparking ideas than pushing my singular agenda.
The worst case is when things devolve into petty, tit-for-tat arguments. This invariably happens when either 1) I am trying to encourage (that’s the nice way to say it) others to see and agree with my perspective more than honestly encouraging thinking and dialogue or 2) people take things the wrong way (per my determination). My best hope to is that I am getting ideas out and encouraging thinking and conversations.
I imagine I will continue my practice of skimming, sifting and passing along news items to those who have expressed interest. If there is power in this process, it is first that I keep learning and hopefully growing. Second, it may be the potential of influence. The act of encouraging others to consider and possibly change can have impact that transcends a singular relationship or specific setting.