Over the last year or so, I have slowed down my news consumption. I have no news apps on my phone. I removed the two news channels I watched—BBC news and CNN—from the favourites. I unsubscribed from all news-related newsletters. I even unsubscribed from all news related podcasts, including NPR’s Indicator and The Economist’s Intelligence podcast.
I still consume news. Most of my world news comes weekly, from The Economist. But a few times a day I open news.google.com on the Firefox Focus browser1 on my phone to check on latest happenings. Once or twice a day, I also switch to BBC News2 (and rarely, CNN) on the TV to check on the news.
Yesterday I decided to also add a delay to the news. Make it slower still. To read yesterday’s news, today.
Instead of checking the news on the phone multiple times a day, and catching up on TV news a couple of times, I would only check news in the morning and then nothing during the day.
Most news takes a night of rest to come to a relative state of conclusion. By next morning, when I check the previous night’s news, it would have rested, matured, and analysed. It would also have moved from ‘he said this, then she said this, and now waiting for them to respond’ to an analysis of the bigger picture of what happened and why.
This is something I miss about having a print newspaper. I was a multi-newspaper subscriber in India. But printed newspaper subscriptions are quite expensive in the UK, so I’ve never had one. I miss getting a newspaper in the morning with a settled, digested, analysed version of the news. The version that also looks at why, not just at what and how.
Since I can’t afford buying a daily newspaper, I’m wondering how to get this delayed news. Online sources are focused these days on the day’s news, if not news by the minute. I don’t live close to a library where I can walk down for a catchup of day’s newspapers.
Subscribing to a morning news-summary newsletter is an option, but may lead to re-cluttering of the inbox. It would also mean opening email before I want to, and possibly getting distracted by other new emails.
I’m open to better suggestions.
After deciding on the delayed news tactic yesterday, I didn’t check news most of the day. I switched on BBC News for a few minutes after dinner, but quickly moved to watch something more entertaining (House).
I finally caught up with yesterday’s news this morning on Google news. The only story that I remember is the opposition leader’s meeting yesterday where they decided to delay Brexit by legislation.
Now, while researching something, I ended up on a website which had news headlines in block on side of the article I wanted to read. Two of the top three blocks were about BloJo deciding to suspend parliament so it can’t stop his Brexit plans. Now I’m sitting here fighting anxiety. Having peeked at the headlines, I want to read the full story and related developments. This is what the news media has addicted us to over the last couple of decades. This is also against the very thing I’m trying to get over.
I expected my delayed news tactic to be challenged by the happenings in the world. I didn’t expect it to happen within 24 hours!
Firefox Focus stops most trackers by default, and clears all storage (cookies, etc) the moment a tab is closed. This helps break the filter bubble. Google News treats me as a new user every time I visit and shows me its top news stories instead of showing my top news stories.
There is also a drawback—quite often the top Brexit related story link is from The Daily Express. They write the most extreme, outrage-provoking, Brexiteer-pov headlines which must be gathering the most clicks, landing them at the top. ↩
- A nasty side effect of switching to news channels after removing them from favourites—I know their channel numbers by heart (BBC News on 503, CNN on 506). This is worse than having them on favourites! ↩