Weekend Assignment #207: Too Much News(?)

The Weekend Assignment is posted each Friday at Outpost Mâvarin; a roundup of responses goes up the following Thursday, so if you’d like to join in, you’ve still got some time!

Weekend Assignment #207: Are you a news junkie, or not so much? Do you seek out news on tv, radio, in newspapers or online, or are you sick of the endless rehashing of the same issues? I realize it’s all a continuum, from “I never watch the news” to “I keep it on all day, and read several newspapers” (or whatever). Maybe you vacillate, depending on what’s going on in the world or your own life. What’s your current level of interest?

Extra Credit: Is there a particular news story you have been following recently?

I think the best way to describe my news-following habits is to call myself an “intermittent” news junkie. Depending on what’s going on in the world at a given time, I may devour current-events stories, but eventually I’ll hit a saturation point and start to tune out.

I rarely watch television news unless there’s something major breaking – election results, war breaking out, natural disasters, things like that. I do get the headlines on the radio in the morning and evening, between the traffic reports on my commutes to and from work; when I’m in a period of paying close attention to current events, I’ll switch over to NPR in between the traffic updates. (I know it sounds goofy, but I feel just a little smarter and better-informed when I’ve spent some time with Morning Edition on the way to the office.)

The radio goes off, and my iPod goes on, when I get to work, but I have internet access all day at my desk. Since I’ve begun spending more (and more) time online, I’m reading the newspaper much less, and I let my nearly 20-year subscription to Newsweek lapse. However, a number of the blogs I read regularly discuss news and issues, and their posts will frequently link back to articles on mainstream-media websites, so I think I stay reasonably well-informed.

There are certain areas of news coverage that interest me more than others, as one might expect. I pay less attention to international news than I probably should – I guess that makes me an American, huh? I’m generally interested in news about domestic politics and the economy. I pay attention to some local news, but my focus is a bit off; I don’t follow much of what happens in the suburb where I live – truthfully, I’m not sure much does happen here, but if it does I’ll hear about it from my brother-in-law, who reads the local paper – but I keep up with the big things happening in the greater Los Angeles area. I try not to pay too much attention to the tabloid-fodder coverage of minor celebrities, but it can be hard to dodge, especially out here.

I’m actually in one of my news-junkie phases these days, as it happens. I’m pretty interested in most matters related to the upcoming Presidential election, and I’m paying attention to news of the economy at the state and local levels, as well as the national one. Locally, much of the news these days has been about a rash of shootings and murders that are most likely gang-related, so I’m glad I don’t actually live within L.A. County. There’s also a lot of talk about foreclosures and the price of gas (I paid $3.59 a gallon to fill up car today; I’m glad I drive a Honda Civic).

I suspect that as summer approaches, my interest in the news will ebb a bit, and kick back up as the election approaches – but that depends on what’s going on. What’s news with you?

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  • I can’t imagine how much tabloid coverage you get out there. It would drive me bonkers.

    Looks like your gas is a bit higher than us here in the Chicago area, but by only a few cents. I’m glad I have a short commute.

  • Mike – I’ve actually had very few minor-celebrity encounters myself, but it’s a lot less glamorous out here than it seems.

    Short commute – I am very envious. 30 miles each way for me.

  • I am much the same way when it comes to my news intake, both in regards to going through high and low phases and not watching it much on television at all ever unless something big is happening. I try and stay at least up on world events in the general sense, but even that gets overwhelming for me sometimes.

    It’s always amusing when my dad in the northern part of the state will ask me about the fires or some sort of disaster or big crime down my way, and I’ll have no idea what he’s talking about. Luckily, that hasn’t happened in awhile.

  • Literary Feline – I know what you mean. One thing about living in a Major Media Market is that sometimes our local stories go national, so people in other places sometimes know more about them than we do.

    On the other hand, I’m very glad I didn’t live out here during the O.J. Simpson trial; my husband tells me it was completely inescapable.

  • Oh, yes. There was no way around news or gossip about OJ Simpson during that time.

  • There are many nice things about the place that I live one of them is that everything is pretty close. If I am smart about it a tank of gas can easily last me a month. While I am concerned with gas prices I don’t watch it intently, just shake my head when I hear the price goes up.

  • Megan – I’m not big on small towns generally, but that would definitely be a plus. I usually fill up my car once a week, and lately it costs more every time.

  • Your comment about natural disasters got me thinking about how the media reacts. Like this week, the floods in the midwest sounded like they were engulfing most of the St. Louis area. However, when I talked to my son-in-law this morning, they are fine. The creek behind their house is behaving nicely and my other kids in the area are fine as well. Sometimes it seems that a lot of the high blood pressure is caused by the media and their blanket statements.

  • Kiva – Good point. I think part of that comes from shaky knowledge of geography, like when relatives call to check on you because of the earthquake “in California” and it was at the other end of the state.

  • I’m sure had I lived out there, I would have followed the Writer’s Strike more closely than I did. For me, NPR alternates with a Doctor Who CD…well, two Doctor Who CDs. Most of the Internet is blocked where I work, including anything with the word “blog” in it, and some kinds of news.

    And I can’t fill my car with gas anymore, because they have the pump set to shut off when it hits $50.

  • Karen – They’ve just started blocking some websites at my office, but so far the access is still pretty good. We’ll see how long it takes them to figure out how to become more vigilant. 🙂 My husband’s employer is a bit more like yours in that respect.

    I wonder if they’ve done that with the gas pumps here too. Since I drive a small car, I haven’t had to pay much over $35 for a fill-up yet…