Why bother to read the news?
“Why follow the news? It’s all negative these days.”
That sentiment is something I hear a lot, phrased different ways by different people all over. It’s not anything new. I’ve been hearing people say this kind of thing since my childhood, but it’s never once stopped me from reading the newspaper and watching the morning or evening newscast.
Because I work at a newspaper now, I think a lot more about this topic than I did in the past when I just ignored the “haters.” Forgive me for preaching to the choir, but I want to take a few minutes to talk about the answer to the question posed at the top of this column.
First of all, the most obvious answer is that the news keeps you informed.
There are small community newspapers, like the one you’re reading right now, which let you know what’s happening at a local level. What are your local government representatives doing? What new businesses are opening up and which old ones are closing down? What road will be closed for repairs for the next few months? What’s going on with the local schools? What are the problems facing the people in the local community?
We’ve generally got all that covered. You won’t turn on your TV at night and often see your little town/community/crossroads featured. So that’s what we’re here for.
Then there are larger newspapers covering broader topics, such as on the state and national level. And there are television and radio stations which spread the news far and wide too. Sometimes the reports are about things which can directly or indirectly affect us, while other reports can simply help us learn more about the people we share this world with.
Secondly, the news is not all negative. Sure, some of it is because we don’t live in a perfect world. Bad things happen. That’s just a fact of life. And, unfortunately, it seems that negative things are just easier to remember.
(Think, for example, about having a bad experience at a restaurant you regularly eat at. Most people will keep focusing on that one bad experience regardless of the multitude of times they ate there without any problems.)
But good things happen in the world too, and we cover those stories just as often as we can. There are plenty of stories out there of communities coming together to help each other and make things better for everyone, even if just a little bit at a time.
Do you remember those stories?
I try to.
So back to the original question. Why bother to be informed?
My opinion is that I can always learn something from the news. Reading a story about the opioid crisis just makes me wonder what I can do to fix the problem. Reading about sexual harassment teaches me things I should be more aware of. Reading about people working in the community to help others gives me an example of something to work towards in my own community. Reading about art makes me feel inspired to create my own.
We don’t live in a bubble. Our lives affect each other whether we like it or not. Because of that, we have to know what’s going on. We can’t just plug our ears and hum loudly and hope it all goes away.
The news connects us all, and ultimately, that’s why I think it’s important.
Holly Taylor is a Staff Writer for Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 252-332-7206.