Reading the Newspaper

Stopping FAFFing About can be applied in work and home life. I even apply it to reading newspapers.

Everyone has their own view on the value of newspapers – the reporting, the political bias, the sensationalisation of anything thought to be of interest to the masses and of course, the celebrity status of anyone with 5 minutes of fame. I used to watch my parents and others from their generation religiously sitting at the kitchen table reading the paper from cover to cover. It’s really not my thing. Not surprisingly I do not have the time, and I don’t know anyone who can afford to give that amount of time everyday to a newspaper. When I do sit in a coffee shop and take a paper from the rack to read,  I have a sense of guilt at the time used up. Yet it is a guilty pleasure too.

The frightening thing I have always found is the misplaced belief in the newspaper telling us the whole truth – it said so in the Guardian or the Daily Express,  so it must be true etc. The scare mongering can be incredible. A classic example is identity theft. I realise that this  is a serious problem and should be taken seriously. However when your mother, an intelligent woman in her late 70s is so scared of identity theft because of what she has read in the newspapers and discussed with her friends who have also read the same papers, there is a problem.

Think of when those charities send, via the post, requests for donations and within the envelope are address labels for my mother at her address for her to use on future letters that she sends. They are there to promote the general awareness of that particular charity, nothing sinister. My mother (before we bought her a shredder) would, by hand, cut up every address label individually – 50 per sheet (!) paranoid that someone would find out her address from going through her bins and then steal all of her wealth. She lives in a flat and can be found at that address on Google and many other search engines, a 10mm by 15mm address label isn’t the target of a potential identity thief, but that is what she has been led to believe. Incredible.

I do not need or want to be polluted and conditioned by the particular angle that a particular paper is reporting. I prefer to find and understand my own truth. This has been achieved from grazing, rather than reading, various websites from the newspapers to the TV stations from around the world. It is quite incredible the difference you will find in reporting standards and style when reading an article on the BBC website followed by Aljazeera and then the same article in a newspaper. All are very different and give you neutral and barbed positions – its up to you to choose which angle to believe.

It takes a long time to read three versions of the same story to obtain a balanced view.  So sadly, as a result the number of stories I read is very low – one or two a day at the moment – 5 minutes rather than the 45 minutes that my parents took. FAFFing is something I do not have time for, so therefore I only read what I want to when I want to. I might not be as well read as the person who sits next to me, but my view will be balanced.

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