Report on Glocal Challenge #1: bin hard to avoid the news

Two weeks ago I announced my first Glocal Challenge: Boycott American News.

I failed horribly.

Watching Al Jazeera English

At first I was doing great. I would get up in the morning and live stream Al Jazeera English. (No I’m not a terrorist, if you think watching AJE is something a terrorist would do, you have to read this post.) It wasn’t always easy to watch AJE. At times it was like eavesdropping on friends who are talking about what they really think of you.

AJE finished an important story on protests in Syria and turned to a discussion about president Obama releasing his birth certificate.

Clip of Obama: “We live in serious times…”

Clip end.

“Please tell me this is the end of this issue,” the anchor said, and then asked about the possibility of Donald Trump being elected president.

The D.C. based reporter laughed a bit and said, “We’ve had Hollywood actors as the U.S. president; don’t discount the game show host.”

“Hollywood actors,” the anchor chuckled, “who worked with monkeys.”

Ouch! Our friends think we’re silly.

Snooki is not news

I read a lot of news on my iPhone and one of my most used apps is the Huffington Post. I’ve written for the Huffington Post and probably will do so again, but the HuffPo is a huge time suck for me. Headlines are sexed up to win my click and then there’s barely a story. There’s always a left-leaning slant on things too. I lean that direction myself, but I still find any obvious slant a little distasteful, even if it’s leaning toward my tastes. For example, I see the world more like the folks on MSNBC than on FOX news, but they drive me equally crazy. I don’t want to watch TEAM DEMOCRAT or TEAM REPUBLICAN. Cut the crap and give me the news.

For this project I needed to replace the Huffington Post app on my phone. I did so with the BBC app, which definitely gave me more important info in less time and fewer empty stories. That said, there was obviously more than a few royal wedding stories, but at least there wasn’t any Jersey Shore news.

Look at me, I’m reading The Economist

Does reading The Economist make me an elitist? In case you are wondering what “elite” really means, read this calorie-free “poop nugget” of a story in the Huffington Post about being elite.

I downloaded The Economist app on my iPhone and love it. My favorite feature is that you can download someone with a very lovely English accent reading the stories. I listened to multiple issues on planes, in my car, mowing my lawn. I appreciate the depth they go into a story. That said, a part of me want to be seen reading The Economist, and when I read/listen to it on my phone a passerby might just as well think I’m playing Angry Birds.

I highly recommend this story from The Economist on China’s presence in Africa. More Chinese have been to Africa in the past 10 years than Europeans in the previous 10. What does this mean for China? Africa? The world? Give this Snooki/birther-free story a read or a listen and find out.

Bin Laden killed my Glocal Challenge

Those are the the three outlets that I worked into my news consuming routine, and, successfully so. But I did fail spectacularly when it came to boycotting American news for the purposed of this experiment.

I blame bin Laden.

He had to go and get shot in the eye, leaving me scrambling all over cable for how the story was being spun. That’s the thing with news. It’s not always about where the truth is (there was plenty of untruths wrapped up in the bin Laden story from the beginning), but it’s also about what spin on the news will win the day. So I bounced from FOX to CNN to MSNBC and back again.

“What does this mean for the stock market?” “What does this mean for the 2012 election?” The hosts asked.

Ick. I wanted to take a bath. Still I flipped from one channel to the next. No one over-reports, over-analyzes, over-guesstimates, and over-speculates what the Hell is actually happening like the American media. I couldn’t get enough of the bin Laden story and I sat their lapping it up.

I fell off the wagon. Somewhere there was an Al Jazeera English reporter laughing at me.

But this time my news consumption didn’t end with the major US-based networks; I also turned to the BBC, The Economist, and Al Jazeera for a more nuanced, and less subjective account of what bin Laden’s death really meant. Most of the American media is based in NYC and one can hardly expect a subjective take on the fellas responsible for 9/11. Even the most liberal of reporters would’ve pulled the trigger on Osama.

Sometimes news is too close to home to report well. We’re lucky to have a world full of news outlets that allow us to look in a mirror. If only we’ll look.

3 tips to be a better consumer of news:

  1. Be a regular at irregular news outlets. Regularly consume news from outside your geographic region. Here’s an in-progress list of info sources for some suggestions. If you find yourself always quoting the same network or the same talking head, you are doing something wrong.
  2. Go where the news is. What are the Japanese saying about Fukushima?  What are Brazilians saying about the 2016 games?  What are Egyptians…Kenyans…Chinese…Nicaraguans…saying?  You can find out.
  3. All news is glocal: today’s global news is tomorrow’s local news.

Where did you turn for news the last two week? Where did you hear about bin Laden first?

Learn more about the Go Glocal Project.

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