A month ago I began a media fast – “fast” being understood on analogy with that cheaty sort of fast when people skip a single meal. That is, I confined myself for the month to reading only the BBC, The Economist, The Atlantic, and Foreign Policy for news. My goal was to snap myself out of the habit of visiting news sites to distract myself, and to eliminate some of the trashier stories from the likes of CNN and Digg, and to avoid the compulsion to read all of the stories that strike my fancy from Arts & Letters Daily (made so easy with the Send-to-Kindle app).
Some misadventures: The Atlantic is published just once for September/October; Foreign Policy likewise. So I read those magazines and was done with that. My diet thereafter consisted only of the BBC and The Atlantic. (And, incidentally, I had confused Foreign Policy with the more widely respected Foreign Affairs; Foreign Policy seemed to have a somewhat narrower focus than was my interest.)
Cutting out the CNN and Digg detritus was certainly worthwhile. (Digg turns up a lot of interesting articles, but on the balance not ones that teach me much or help me learn better.) I’m not tempted to go back to those outlets. The BBC preserves plenty of trash, though not so much as the likes of CNN, and it’s generally trash from around the world; few regrets there. I have learned a good deal about world affairs from The Economist, almost to the point that the chatter about interest rates and fiscal policy are starting to make sense. I’m not inclined to give it up, but the darned magazine is 100 pages long, every week, and the articles do tend to be somewhat repetitive (“Country X should adopt liberal economic practice Y”).
I expect I will continue with this diet for a while, but I want to intentionally incorporate more arts and culture into my reading diet. It may be back to Arts & Letters Daily, though again that can provide a deluge reading material.