A combination of OD’ing on the BBC News app, investigating the Apple News app and reading Martin Bell’s book, In Harm’s Way: Bosnia: A War Reporter’s Story has got me thinking about whether we’re faced with too much news, but insufficient insight in respect of the news reported.
Like many people, I tap on a news app several times a day to see what’s happening in the world and for updates since the last interrogation of the app. But I’m starting to find it like consuming too much sugar. The Haribos or the chocolate biscuits (choose your poison) start as a treat, but end up leaving you feeling hungry, fuzzy-headed and slightly cheated.
There’s a need to keep abreast of events in broad terms so you can chat to other people and be part of day-to-day life. At times, it’s important to be aware of potential dangers or loss of services – terrorist incidents and strikes would both fall into this category, although that doesn’t equate the seriousness of the two.
But I’m missing the range of in-depth analysis that constitutes the three square meals a day of news. I want to be able to understand the wider context, to see the connections between what happens in one place and what happens in another, to able to piece together the historical context and the implications for the future. Articles and programmes that achieve this are out there, but it’s becoming more of an exercise to hunt them down.
Martin Bell is right in saying that news reporting takes time and that soundbites and 24 hr news isn’t conducive to insightful journalism. Often, it takes time to gather accurate information and sift truth from rumour.
Our attention spans are getting shorter; if it isn’t instant, it’s not worth having. But we should be more demanding and tell the media that they should slow down and provide us with more in-depth analysis and assessment as part of a balanced diet.