For decades, I woke every morning to NPR’s Morning Edition. It was a ritual of preparation for my day in the classroom with college students—a window to the world of important happenings. My news binging started around 5:00 p.m. while I prepared dinner, and it extended most evenings until bedtime when I read for an hour to clear my head. Then came the national elections of 2016, whose opponents were a Democratic candidate I didn’t much like and a Republican who was an anathema to all that is sane and moral.
At first, I felt compelled to watch and listen to the news but, as the campaign progressed, I found myself assaulted by it. I made pink pussy hats for the Women’s March in Washington and gritted my teeth at the very sight of our new president. The campaign over, the news did not improve. In fact, all TV and talk radio outlets seemed to be in competition for the most onerous talking, screaming, heads, sensationalism, and conspiracy theories. Only NPR/PBS seemed to be rational and moderate, but it, too, was compelled to provide excessive airtime to the president.
Friends began to complain of depression. They had already stopped looking at social media and were considering wrenching themselves away from TV news. I limited my diet of news to the four minutes of the NPR newscast at the top of the hour and nothing more. I left the country and spent three months traveling around the world—no TV, no radio, no newspapers.
In a matter of days, we will swear in a new president. I am hopeful, but worry that Trump will continue to spew his poison and the news media will continue to treat it as newsworthy. Let the vermin crawl back into obscurity. Give us back news worthy of our attention.