I’ve been experimenting with managing my media since the Boston Marathon bombing. Unfortunately, we keep having catastrophic events like this one and the Sandy Hook school shooting to give me practice.
It used to be that I would sit in front of the television consuming and consumed – as with the 9/11 attack and the Gabby Giffords shooting and others – by channel surfing and visiting scores of sites on my laptop until overcome with media overload and not much insight to show for it. Now, I take a different tack.
Yes, I still grab my phone for the headlines and other coverage in the major papers each morning before I even get out of bed, and I check in my NPR especially on my commute, but I try to limit my television consumption to the evening newscasts. Yes, the network newscasts.
I know how old school that sounds, but consider this: those programs have teams of people reporting, vetting, and packaging 10-15 minutes of coverage daily. By watching one and recording two, I can get a variety of perspectives distilled into an amount of coverage I can consume on my own terms without feeling overwhelmed.
Yes, I still get the headlines and keep up with major developments throughout the day and tune in when something really new breaks, but I find that I’m not as derailed by every false report (such as John King’s Wednesday announcement of an arrest) when I manage my media and mindfully consume it instead of allowing it to consume me.