Dry January is over for me and so it’s the perfect time to start drinking again and focus the month of February on the news media. I honestly can’t imagine doing this challenge completely sober so it’s great timing.
This challenge will change weekly and the goal will be to show that our knowledge of ‘what is happening’ in the world depends on what we are reading, who we are talking to and sometimes even where we live.
The first week will be spent with no news! That’s right. I’m taking January 31st-February 7th off from the news. I will be happily skipping the State of the Union this year. I will not seek the news on Reddit, Google, Facebook, BBC, Fox, MSNBC, CNN, local news, you name it, I’m not having it.
Week one will be a chance to cleanse the pallet. The one exception is I will be able to ask people around me what’s going on in the news if I desire. I will also be able to pick up the news just from listening to people around me talk about it. I’m hoping to show what someone who doesn’t pay attention to the news picks up as news worthy.
Week two (here’s where the drinking comes in) I’ll be only reading Fox News. I don’t have cable so I won’t have to WATCH fox news (thank baby Jesus), but I will be only getting my news and headlines from them. Then I’ll report to you what the news for the week is when I only got my news from Fox.
Then I’ll be moving on to CNN for week three. If you don’t think CNN has a bias then clearly you’ve been reading too much CNN. It’ll be interesting to see the contrast here.
Why is this so important to see things from all sides? Although bias is impossible to get rid of completely (heck I’ve been pretty bias this entire post so far), it’s still important that we look for it and learn how to identify it. Here’s an example of a news story told three different ways:
Now I realize this challenge focuses solely on AMERICAN news, which is why for the last week (which will bump a bit into March due to the weird way February works) I’ll be reading Al Jazeera, which I think is a fairly balanced world focused news site, although by no means perfect being owned by the government of Qatar. I’ll do an expose on a few different countries for week four via BBC News because they have an excellent search option to narrow down news by world region, and I’ll let you know what the top story is in those countries. News happens in other parts of the world too my American friends!
I’ll also be reading three books this month, one on on the left, one in the middle and one on the right of U.S. politics. They are called Listen Liberal by Thomas Frank, Republican Like Me by Ken Stern and other is called The Loudest Voice in the Room by Gabriel Sherman. Thomas Frank and Ken Stern books are both written by current or former liberals. Frank spends his book so far examining where the left has failed the working class and Stern spends his book getting out of his blue bubble and experiencing some GOP love. Gabriel Sherman’s book gives a deep look into Roger Ailes life and legacy as founder of Fox News.
So that’s the February challenge. No news has already started for me and I’ll be honest, I wanted to check the news several times already today. Help I’m dying.