News diets are necessary
Updated: Mar 24, 2019
The constant onslaught of content can be toxic for mental health
I started my career in media working in a traditional local TV news station. In the small market where I worked there wasn’t a lot of things going on, so national news often helped to fill my rundown as the night show producer. Not only did I have to know what was going on in the 9 counties and two states my station covered, but also what is happening all across the country and even globally. Constantly being immersed in the good, bad, and the ugly sides of politics, disasters, crime, and current events would sometimes weigh very heavy on my heart and often had a negative impact on my overall mental health and anxiety. That is part of the reason why I have been so hesitant to return to a newsroom full time.
News or content anxiety is something that can be pretty common among people who consume a lot of news or current event content. With so much information and content coming at us constantly through the 24-hour news cycle and social media the never sleeps, it is easy to become depressed about things that are far removed from the list on things that you can control.
If you don’t work in a news related field but want to keep up with what is going on in the world, you do not have to follow a ton of news sources to get your information. You only need to find sources that you trust that can provide that information. This completely excludes cable news networks such as MSNBC, FOX News, and CNN. While these outlets are great for what it is that they do (commentary) you want information without bias and news stories without a slant. However, their online counterparts are usually less partisan.
In my opinion NPR is a great resource for news stories from real reporters with real information. My favorite daily podcast is the NPR “Up First” podcast. It's usually under 15 minutes long, and covers the day's top stories. It’s super simple to follow and doesn’t dwell on opinionated details.
Another way to cut down on the news content you consume is to follow local news closer than national news. Familiarize yourself with the local TV and radio stations as well as your local newspapers. The people reporting for those outlets are members of your community and have some of the same concerns that you do. Also, when you support local news outlets you allow for them to have more resources to continue to report the news that matters to you. Monitoring who you follow on social media can allow you to avoid certain unnecessary stresses as well. You may want to avoid following news pundits that constantly post their own sensationalized versions of current news events.
There is no piece of information or gossip information that could be more valuable to you than your own piece of mind (outside of natural disasters that directly impact you).
If your news content consumption is causing anxiety and stress, you need to reevaluate your news diet. Being informed about every story on the news isn’t as important as your mental health. In this case, I do believe that ignorance can be bliss.