Lately, I have been wondering if it is possible for someone in the West to completely boycott the mainstream media. Obviously, the goal is to be more informed afterwards. For those of you don’t think you are in the ‘West,’ feel free to chime in too. Any of you out there feel you are informed and without the mainstream media? This post is meant to solicit discussion, and I hope we can come up with a reasonable answer. Perhaps complete boycott is not possible, but still, even a partial one would be improvement in my opinion.
I suppose I should pick a topic area. In my particular case in the U.S. where I spend a significant amount of time looking at the China relationship, I used to subscribe to the ‘China’ RSS feeds from the NYT, WSJ, and the BBC. I’ve never bothered to read CNN or Fox. So, lately, I have decided to remove them altogether.
Of course, there is always the danger of finding media only one agrees with. Logically, that cannot be the basis for being informed. My first instinct is to go more directly to the important sources. This means subscribing to the White House and Department of State blogs. I plan to search for a good source of U.N. coverage. I like Charlie Rose, because you get to hear from his guests directly and at length. Perhaps more books from authoritative figures, like ‘On China’ by Henry Kissinger.
Bear in mind though, I already have China Daily, NHK, Russia Today, and couple more of non-Western media subscribed.
What other sources should I be looking at? What is your strategy to rid of the mainstream media? How would you go about it?
[Update July 11, 2011]
Jxie left these comments below today I thought very insightful:
A couple belated cents of mine.
First, you ought to ask yourself, what’s the point of even reading/watching from news media? In my case, I want to seek the truths, and gain a better understanding of the world surrounding me, for the purpose of making better and informed decisions, which shall in the long run allow me to live a more fulfilling life.
a. My prior knowledge and understanding may be false given the latest information, assuming I am examining it dispassionately. I need to be perfectly willing to give up my confirmation bias.
b. Most people are wrong, often.
Second, Dr. Stephen Covey’s 5th habit, “seek first to understand, then to be understood.” Sometimes 2 competing narratives can be both right. We ought to listen carefully to the other narrative, and put ourselves into the other side’s shoes to see the whole picture.
Third, the power of switching the channel, and flipping to the next page. No media outlet is perfect. My own mainstream Western media list is, WSJ, Forbes, Bloomberg TV (often), Financial Times, and Economist (occasional). For example, when I read Forbes, I tend to skip Paul Johnson’s commentaries, and Gary Shilling’s predictions (historically proven far more wrong than right). This piece may get you mad, to me it was a WTF and flipping to the next page.
Forth, follow the ones who have proven themselves. Jim Rogers, Bill Gross, George Soros, Jack Welch, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs… pay attention to what they have to say. Opinions are like ass — everybody has got one. Most people are lemmings, and most opinions are worthless.