News miles: Rethinking your info diet

This story is fucking riveting and you better be reading it:

Held by the Taliban, reporter David Rohde’s account of being kidnapped and held prisoner by the Taliban for seven months until finally escaping. Loaded with intense moments like this one:

On the first day there, I went to the bathroom and returned to find Tahir with a fresh cut on his calf. It looked as if someone had drawn a line across his leg in red ink. A local Waziri militant had taken out his knife and tried to cut off a chunk of Tahir’s calf, saying he wanted to eat the flesh of an Afghan who worked with Westerners.

Part 1

Part 2

The story is also notable for the execution of one of the most successful — and largest — media blackouts ever when the Times asked other news orgs to not run the story out of concern for complicating the release of the prisoners.

Yeah, guess which one of the below have similar stories to share?

(Hint: It’s none of them)

If Michael Pollan got people to reconsider their diets to start factoring in food miles and all the industrial, ethical and environmental ripple effects they cause, maybe someone needs to write a book extolling the value of news miles. News miles, unlike food ones, being a good thing, as they represent the distance and effort a required to bring the news to your home, as opposed to the empty calories of  cable and other sources that just lift the news from another source and begin their gross process of public chewing and digestion.

The thing that cracks me up most about the cable news model for CNN, Fox and so forth is that none of them actually does much reporting on the news; instead, we’re inundated constantly with people’s opinion on the news, whether that opinion be from the would-be editorial page voices of Hannity and Dobbs or from the central file of on-hand commentators, political analysts and observers (or the occasional hot-air balloon expert) . Yes, Wolf, I know you’re going to turn to Donna Brazile to tell us what she thinks of Obama’s last move. And odds are I probably know exactly what she’s going to say by now. But make sure to check in with Paul Begala too so we round out the troupe of the commentoctracy that monopolize teevee news.

Notice the difference when you listen to NPR, which is on air for nearly as long as CNN every day but fills its time with reported pieces, extended interviews and narratives. There’s commentary too, but it mostly takes the form of a Daniel Schorr verbal op-ed, and only on incredibly rare occasions does it lapse into the back-and-forth shouting tennis matches seen on TV.

Yesterday I was at register at TJ’s and overheard a conversation next to me. The customer was asking the cashier: “Are you eating less meat after that New York Times story?”

He was talking, of course, about this story from earlier this month about a 22-year-old dance instructor who was paralyzed from the waist down after getting E. coli from a hamburger. The story exposed dangerous flaws in the systems that produce and monitor the meat industry.

The way the customer asked the question was laced with the casual commonality of The Big Story that hearkens back to the era when newspapers were central. “That Times story?” was all the descriptor that was needed, and of course you read it.

The other cashier had not read it, however, so he briefly explained it.

“The meat industry refuses to regulate itself. So the journalists will continue to tell their stories.”

Maybe it’s time to start thinking about what diseases the “news” you consume might be tainted with.

RELATED: Poll – Is the New York Times home delivery worth $600.40 a year? [Brokelyn]

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4 responses to “News miles: Rethinking your info diet

  1. You’re a news vegetarian.

  2. What does that mean?

  3. I think that’s a …. good thing?

  4. Pingback: The Slow News Movement « Inverted Soapbox

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