Unplugged, but not Uninformed. Pondering How to Stay informed when so much of Media is poisonous.

071613Back during Lent I turned off the Radio, which for me consisted mainly of News and talk radio. I also switched off cable TV news. It was the aftermath of the last election cycle, and  all the franticness and severe partisan debate that talk radio and 24/7 news channels love to generate and I was exhausted, had felt ill-served and uniformed. Most of the talking heads I listened to had been dead wrong about the election and the mood of the American people.

As a kind of news junkie I new it would be hard. But I also knew that the all-too steady diet of that stuff was ruining my peace.  Since Ash Wednesday, I haven’t gone back. When I have the radio on now, I listen to Catholic Radio. I also listen to podcasts more.

Frankly the news and talk radio world thrive on generating a sense of crisis, conflict and consternation.  I gave up on them for the same reason I stopped reading newspapers ten years ago, I felt like I was being played. There seemed to be a desire to stir me up, get me angry, or manipulate my thinking and views more than to inform me. I am not sure I need to be told what to think. But it does help to know what is going on. But I wasn’t getting even that.

I was also being pelted with lots of dumb information that was not only useless but was quite annoying, such as what certain Hollywood people were doing, thinking, who they were dating, divorcing, or what strange things they were naming their kids or causes they supported, etc. This is not news, it is infotainment. And all the giggling on morning news shows but on TV and radio really annoys after awhile.

The news does not really seem to be the news. Either it is advocacy journalism, or it is simply trying to peddle crisis and controversy or just showing how shallow and debased our culture has become. The result for me was too much anger, anxiety, and even a sort of bitterness for “them” i.e. the people on the other side.

Yes, I was being played. And I didn’t like it. And most of the people who were trying to play me and sell increasingly insulting news do not share my faith and even feel free to ridicule what I find sacred, holy and valuable.

 Dale Ahlquist in his book Common Sense 101 has some interesting insights that resonate with me. He himself is also reflecting on G.K Chesterton. Here are a few quotes along with some additional comments by me in red:

Modern man is staggering and losing his balance because he is being pelted with little pieces of alleged fact . . . which are native to the newspapers; Chesterton says that journalism consists of saying “Lord Jones is Dead” to people who never knew that Lord Jones was alive. The news is either irrelevant or irreverent….…..it is an insult to the common man to say that he is as vulgar and silly as most of the newspapers are.

Yes, at some point too much information is no information. We are simply overwhelmed with distractions and have trouble sorting it all out and prioritizing. And so much of what the news focuses on is banal, trivial and exotic. And all the infotainment stuff really is an insult. 

 The great weakness of the news industry is that it “must be a picture made up entirely of exceptions”. The newspapers, says Chesterton, cannot announce the happiness of mankind at all. They cannot describe all the forks that are not stolen, or all the marriages that are not dissolved, all the murders that are not committed. And so they do not give a normal picture of life at all. “They can only represent what is unusual.”

Exactly. The news is not really the news, it is the bad news, the strange news, the starling, odd, and exotic news. The news is biased, not only because it is left or right but because it leaves out the most important news of the day: that Jesus Christ is risen from the dead and is at the Father’s right hand interceding for us, and that we must prepare for his great second coming.

 [And there is]  the great fallacy that the press is somehow neutral. [This] has in turn fed the idea that neutrality itself is a great desirable quality, that not taking a stand is somehow admirable, that “tolerance” is the supreme virtue.

Of course we all know that that the idea of an unbiased press is and always has been a lie. Frankly most of it is left, and even those on the right, like to call themselves “Fair and Balanced.” Why not just come out and state what everyone really knows: The Washington Post: News from the left. MSNBC, news from the far left. Fox News: News from the right. Just say it!

And as Ahlquist points out, why is neutrality so prized anyway. We in the Church surely need to rediscover that to speak the truth is to stake out a position and to declare that the opposite of what we teach is false. We need to stop all this pretending that we’re just neutral and stand firmly for our sacred teachings without lots of bows to a supposed neutrality, which doesn’t exist anyway.

We live in an age of journalese. The very language that we are forced to use attacks our traditions, our morals, and our faith. Things that are degenerate and sinful are called “progressive” and “liberating”. Good words that were once pure and noble, like “choice” and “gay”, now have reprehensible meanings. Traditional religion, which has given light to millions across the world and across the centuries, is called dull and narrow. 

It is amazing the power that wordsmithing has. The Times and Post have far too much power in this regard. The cultural left has this tactic down cold. We in the Church are real rookies when it comes to this. 

We might be able to take the newspapers more seriously if they would not take themselves so seriously. Honesty always laughs, because things are so laughable.” the only reason to read the newspaper is to find out what the enemy is up to. Hah!

All quotes are from Chapter 5: The Daily Truth

I realize that there is a danger in trying to stay away from the manipulation of the media. I do need to stay informed and have some idea what many of my parishioners are (sadly) being exposed to and listening to. Currently I depend a lot on others to throw items over my transom. I also hear some news on Catholic Radio, and over at sites like New Advent. But I do feel less aware about the “buzz” of modern culture. And that is good, but has drawbacks.

Here’s my question: do any of you know some good news sources that help one to stay informed but without all the deleterious, poisonous and trivial stuff mentioned above? Perhaps there are some good sources, Catholic and otherwise that can keep us informed but without all the poison. I tend to watch little T.V. and am more rooted in Catholic Radio and Internet.

At the end of the day, I want to stay more focused on God and be more immersed in my faith. The pull of culture has become so poisonous and troubling. But, as most of you know I am will and ready to make use of good things in culture and to comment on things that come to my attention. But too much raw exposure to it is not good for my soul. Yet I want and need to know the basics of what is being said and done in our all-too-distressing world. Any suggestions are appreciated and I suspect that we can also help each other find alternative sources for news.

79 Replies to “Unplugged, but not Uninformed. Pondering How to Stay informed when so much of Media is poisonous.”

  1. Ever since I downloaded the drudge report app, I have very little need for news and sensationalism on Tv.

    1. Drudge is oftentimes very hard right wing, towing the current conservative ethos, which is in many important ways contrary to the Catholic worldview (hostility to immigrants, unjust wars, and radical individualism to name a few). Drudge Report is useful for staying informed of current events up to the minute, altho the headlines are just as sensationalist as those in print if not more so, and many of the links are to Old Media sources like the Associated Press and Reuters.

      Useful to some degree, but let the user beware.

  2. No source for you, but I’m in the same boat. One of our local media-types does a daily set of headlines on his blog — reads the news so we don’t have to. Would be handy to find a good Catholic aggregate like the Pulp.it, only for news instead of punditry.

  3. What a lovely blog post! It echoes my feelings exactly.

    Oh, but I would be so grateful for “real” news! Since I stopped listening to the radio & watching tv, sometimes I am a bit “out of the loop.”

    If anyone has a good source, please do share.

    1. I use Free Republic and News Now – I sort through the news tear lines and read what I want – and in an hour I have more in depth knowledge of worldly events and how those events may impact my life than watching any of the TV news service all day long. I think for myself – and never trust that the journalist is telling the truth — so I Google and search some more – I have to do the job they were suppose to do – but never get around to do it. Therefore, I’m exposed to other opinions and perspectives and learn to decide what is actually occurring. After doing this for 6 months – then turn the news on if you still have it and watch them – you’ll find them utterly stupid and way out of touch! Then be happy you can think for yourself! God Bless –

    2. My sister introduced me to a weekly magazine appropriately named “The Week.” It is basically a news clipping service, a magazine of articles and information culled from a variety of newspapers, websites, etc. and is published by The Economist. I find it keeps me up on world events (even a bit of popular culture) and is a fairly balanced publication, even presenting opposing viewpoints and editorials on a topic. A great mobile app is included with the subscription. Just my two cents!

  4. “At the end of the day, I want to stay more focused on God and be more immersed in my faith. The pull of culture has become so poisonous and troubling.” Amen and amen! I have felt this way for some time also and have slowly been withdrawing from it too. It has been very good for me to let go of all that trashy, useless information that is tossed at you. It IS poisonous and very unhealthy for our souls and I only regret I did not do it sooner.

  5. Dear Msgr, like you I recently stopped reading a Hong Kong newspaper on the internet that I used to read daily, for the same reason that you listed. It was costing too much time, and I did not get anything that enriches my soul and spirit at the end of the day. It also takes crucial time away from doing real work which can glorify God and santify myself, and from bible reading or contemplative prayer. Like you, I am also a bit of a news junkie, and I found that reading a daily internet news site, newspaper in paper form, plus the news on tv is just too much. To know what is happening in our world, I still read a daily news-paper. I am currently living in Singapore, and the newspaper here is not too bad. It is a thin paper so doesn’t take too long to get through. Not too much propaganda, and none of the things like sunshine girls or such (which can lead to temptations). I still watch tv news, but I choose the ones that just give the facts without the commentaries/propaganda (e.g. not fox). Here we have ChannelnewsAsia, which is probably similar to CNN. For internet, since a few months ago I tried to limit its use to just for work related searches. Outside of work I am now extremely selective of what I would read (to avoid the occasion of near-sin). I regularly read your blog, a daily email from GoodNewsReflection ministry on reflections of the daily Bible reading, sometimes the weekly blog from Fr Ron Rolheiser, and if I have time I also read some of the the web pages from New Advent (which I receive a daily update in my mailbox), such as homilies of Pope Francis. I think for people that want a periodical on what is happening in the society and world, the Economist, Newsweek, Times, and New York Times are reasonable choices, although I don’t subscribe to them myself. Popular media can be a deterrent to the path to holiness, and as St Paul said, the spirit and the flesh are opposite to each other so that we can only choose one. Nevertheless, most of us are not living in a isolated monastry and we still need to know what is happening around us. I discovered that it is very important to make careful choices and be disciplined, otherwise it can be like sheeps among wolves, especially when it comes to the internet, which so many people have fallen victim to, including myself at one time. By experiencing God’s love deeply (what you wrote in your last homily reflection on July 13 was wonderful really resonates with me, I’ve read it twice already), hopefully the Holy Spirit will guide us to continue to discern and make good choices in our lives that honor and glorify God. Please continue to pray for us. God bless you. John

  6. Catholic blogs (including bigpulpit.com) and Facebook friends tend to reflect the largest secular stories of the day. I don’t watch TV either, and we don’t carry the paper. The things I miss most about the local paper are the obituaries and the local stories. They matter more to folks here locally. I can find those headlines and obits on the online version. That format lets a reader skim through what’s bad and click through to what is helpful. It’s definitely hard to not get overwhelmed by news. I have to purge my news feeds every 6 months or so, keeping what is helpful, throwing out those sites, even Catholic ones, that are deliberately provocative.

  7. I just read blogs for my infotainment. I didn’t grow up with any thought for news other than major news that filters down even to people who pay next to no attention at all, news like presidential elections, terrorist attacks, etc. I think the news and all the mainstream stuff other than sports is focusing way more on women now. When I turn on CNN, it’s the only news channel I get, what I notice most is all the bare shoulders and cleavage on news personalities.

  8. My approach is to skim the left leaning sources (NY Times, Wa Post) along with the right leaning sources (Fox, Drudge) for the details and then form an opinion based on what I’ve read. I don’t know of any one source that presents a balanced viewpoint.

    I’m a big fan of New Advent.

    Neil Postman dealt with this conundrum in his brilliant work “Amusing Ourselves to Death” back in the 1980’s – highly recommended!

  9. EWTN, The World Over hosted by Raymond Arroyo is a good source. However, it is only on once a week. It isn’t a daily update, but it is concise without all the hype.

  10. Catholic News Live, or CNL app is fantastic! It aggregates news 24 hrs. a day. Links to all kinds of Catholic based news sources, and brings in appropriate secular ones. I’ve had it for 2 years on my mobile devices, and use it throughout the day to stay informed. Fantastic app!

  11. Same boat here! I started using New Advent as a filter and found your column. I want to thank you for your work here as it has provided homilies in the desert. I love my parish and my priests but as the papal nuncio to Ireland recently observed, heresy is at the highest levels.
    I like the Wall Street Journal for their measured tone.

  12. I dread logging in to my computer each day because I wonder what scandal about Catholicism will be reported today. I don’t watch TV any more because of the anti-Catholicism in the detective shows I used to love and I find in the detective stories I download into my kindle all but three have had some kind of anti-Catholicism in them e.g. the pervert priest, the priests who routinely break the seal of the confessional and just plain incorrect stuff e.g. a priest giving Extreme Unction to a dead man. I truly believe that Jesus founded the Catholic Church but I am worn down by the scandals, the media bias against the Faith the lukewarm Catholicism of the priests I come across and the CINO Catholic schools etc etc etc.

    1. “the lukewarm Catholicism of the priests … come across” Revelation 3:15&16 as exceptions are singled out to portray a false whole?

  13. For me, I rely largely upon scanning RSS feeds to keep me informed. I have about 200 or so separate sources, including newspapers from multiple angles, Catholic news sources (at least those that are not dissenting against the Magisterium), and blogs (both secular and Catholic).

    I **scan** those feeds a few times a day — pick and choose stories that are of interest to me and leave off the garbage that is not of interest.

    (Note: if you’re interested in that type of approach, I’d be happy to email you an OPML file that you could import into Feedly, Newsblur, or another RSS aggregator)

    Also, I have a couple of twitter feeds that readers might be interested in to help with scanning (rather than digesting in bulk. No need to sign up for Twitter in order to view these feeds:


    In my opinion, the secret is not so much to **avoid** the news, but to determine what you choose to digest.

  14. American Family Radio (AFR), which is a division of American Family Association (AFA). I just discovered it recently, and now get most of my new from there. Look them up online, or tune in to a local syndicate on FM. They cover topical issues, financial issues, and political issues. They are the most God-centered source of news and discussion I have ever found.

  15. I am not a Christian but I am a Jew living in Israel. This article has coalesced all my views about Main Stream Media for the last decade. Thank you so much for articulating such a simple and basic fact: that we CHOOSE to be inundated with psuedo facts and damaging, negative information all designed to place us into a passive, non-thinking exstence mode. The sum of all of this propaganda is that the sky is supposedly falling, well, it is not.

    In Israel, it is even worse because the intensity of life, conflict, politics and desire to sway the educated or non-educated public from one side to the other, is great. The chasm between Left and Right, Rich and Poor, Arab and Jew, Jew and Jew and Arab to Arab is enormous. The media pits one side against the other or tries to sway the Jews by presenting the Arabic narrative ever so gently. It is very much a defeatest approach.

    9 years ago, I stopped buying newspapers and began to cut back on the TV and you know what? I feel a lot better and lighter. My outlook is not so catastrophic about every issue as it was. Does this mean that “ignorance is bliss”, no it does not and that is why the Internet has totally crushed the media bias.

    People want headlines and some in-depth reporting but not by the talking heads with a political or rating agenda. Who needs all that media hype where they are selling you a very handsome crew of presenters who are suposedly solid journalists? It is “INFOTAINMENT”.

    I want facts, headlines, and reporting on events. I do not need a biased media being defeatest for Israel or America’s cause and spiritual soundness.

    Thank you for spelling these points out and know, that you re not alone in America with these problems. Countries like Israel, a free, Democratic and open society, wrestle with these same issues as compared to our neighbors who all have state-run and controlled media in police state fashion. That is why they are killing each other.

  16. Sure the music you leave us with each day is not your first choice? Horrendous.

    1. 🙂 The choice of the video was meant to illustrate the tendencies of media culture to drive us crazy with all the latest trends and require our assent. The song (love it or hate it musically) speaks to the ephemeral insistence of the wider and increasingly poisonous media

    2. Horrendous? I like this song. I like classical, jazz, standards, classic rock, alternative, etc. as well. Msgr. Popes also leaves us with some great gospel and a variety of traditional hymns. Maybe Msgr. Pope could send you his blog before he publishes and you can pick out the video. It would save him some time.

  17. Thank you for the post, Monsignor. I started eyeing the media with great suspicion many years ago when I was in high school. At the time it puzzled me why, during the coverage of Pope John Paul II’s first visit to the US, the media cast an uncritical eye on some activist nuns protesting in favor of women’s ordination. It didn’t take me long to start getting unpuzzled once I realized this was part of the sensationalistic bent of the mainstream media, in which attacks on faithful Catholicism play a major role.

    Around that same time I started getting really turned off by Billy Joel’s mockery of Catholic girls, virginity, and the Rosary which started getting heavy play on the airwaves in the late 1970s, as it still does 30-plus years later on the “classic” stations. So much for our society’s growth in tolerance and enlightenment, I suppose.

    It would be nice to say that all these realizations helped to form my soul in resistance to sin and reliance upon Our Lord and His Blessed Mother. The opposite, sadly, turned out to be the case. Not until 2011 did I embark on a return to the Church — about the same time I began to renounce several vicious habits and addictions, including those to the 24/7 news cycle and social media. Even so, Monsignor, without God’s grace and Our Lady’s help and intercession — as well as helpful guidance like yours for which I am very grateful — I’d still be foundering.

  18. You just told my story – right down to the post-election funk. Several years ago we cancelled our local newspaper after reading an article by Alexander Solzhenitsyn on the Catholic Culture site. He described a form of effective resistance: against the Communist regime:

    “To counteract the power of lies, he said: “Our path is not to give conscious support to lies about anything whatsoever!” He then listed a number of ways an individual could refuse to participate. One of them was; “Will not subscribe to or buy a newspaper or magazine in which information is distorted and primary facts are concealed.”

    We subscribed to USA Today and have been surprised at how much more balanced they are. They were one of the first to point out the media blackout of the Gosnell trial. The New Advent “10 Things You Need To Know” link is helpful too.

  19. Dear Msgr. Ditto. I don’t read the newspaper, nor do I watch TV news. I consult the following sources and tend to stay quite well informed. Like my bishop, however, I’m becoming “culturally illiterate” in the sense that I no longer know current movie stars or pop musicians. And I’m not missing a thing! Anyway, here are some good web sources:


    God’s blessings…my prayers…

  20. I think the Wall Street Journal Weekend Edition, for $2, is of very high quality. The primary downside is the obvious heavy emphasis on money, but the World section, Weekend Interview and the entire ‘Review’ section (of books) is very, very good. It’s also a welcome relief from staring at a computer screen all day. A typical ritual for me is to attend Saturday morning mass then afterward get some coffee and the Journal Weekend Edition and spend an hour or two reading the week’s events with a bit more perspective than the 24-hour news cycle can offer.

    I am also going through some discernment of developing my own news aggregator web site which offers a much deeper and longer perspective (trends spanning decades, for each country) that I’m considering working on after I retire (Lord willing).

    Other than that, I am in the same boat as all of you. The book “The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains” is highly recommended. Our brains crave the way the internet provides information (hypertext, e.g.); it becomes exceptionally hard, at least for those of us who make our living writing software, to turn away from it and fast from its glut of noise.

  21. We have lived without television for the last eight years. Mass media’s influence can be seen so very clearly once you have weaned yourself from it.

    Prime time teaches its audience to laugh at each other, call each other names, lie, steal, commit adultery, divorce, have sex outside of marriage, disrespect their parents, and drink. No one on prime time tv goes to church, reads a book, cleans their house or ever seems to work. There is no modesty, genuine respect for other people, or respectful language. Everybody is so very concerned with their appearance.

    And of course, there is never any gratitude shown to God. Just an ever present denial of His very existence. Basically, television just portrays people breaking the ten commandments. People watching slowly begin to embrace this is as being acceptable.

    Yes, it can sometimes feel like we are isolated. But better that, then being immersed into mainstream American culture. Yes, the kids complain. But I know that television is not going to lead them to heaven.

    I only listen to catholic radio and we subscribe to two catholic newspapers. I’m thinking of getting a subscription to a catholic magazine. I check foxnews.com and newadvent.com everyday. I also check the weather online because we live in a hurricane prone area.

    Thank you, Monsignor, for writing about this. I think it is a very important issue that rarely gets any attention.

    I will keep you in my prayers.

  22. I remember getting a survey call way back from the people at 60 Minutes wanting an idea of what I would like to see on their show. Every story had a liberal agenda and it wasn’t until I read “Useful Idiots” by Mona Charin and some other books critical of the media that the light went on. We have been played by the media very nicely especially since the end of WWII. I too turned off the news after the last election and a peace came over me immediately. I watch news again but very selectively and I know how to identify when my peace s leaving me. God works in mysterious ways.

  23. This post was for me. I was a talk radio junkie for over a decade. Rush, Beck, Levine…etc. As a housewife, it was a great way to stay informed plus it kept me company. My attitude toward them began to change last summer after I read Atlas Shrugged. That is a book many talk radio hosts revere and have put on a pedestal. It shocked me. Pure evil in my opinion. That is when I realized the philosophy held by right wing talk show hosts isn’t exactly Godly and pure. So I started to leave the radio off. Occasionally, I will listen to Rush, but not often now.

  24. I stopped watching the 24-hour cable news networks years ago, and I don’t regret it one bit. I don’t even get those networks on my cable subscription any more. The list below shows what I do now to keep up with news. I’m not saying that this is the best list of sources, but this is what works for me:

    1. Check the Drudge Report almost daily. Mainly just scan the headlines, and click through to a few stories that sound interesting. Yes, he has some gossipy stuff, but I don’t pay much attention to that. If you don’t like Drudge, you probably could do the same thing with some other general news site that aggregates major news headlines.

    2. Listen to the news updates on Kresta in the Afternoon, on Ave Maria Radio (both hours) or on EWTN radio (second hour only). And then of course the show itself goes more in depth on some news stories. I listen over the internet, either live, or one day delayed via podcast.

    3. Occasionally (at least once per week) scan the headlines on a good Catholic news site or pro-life new site, like Catholic News Agency or LifeSiteNews.com. Also keep up with Catholic news by reading several Catholic blogs.

    4. Occasionally watch one of the “smarter” news shows on TV, like Fox News Sunday (which airs on the main Fox network, so I can see it even without Fox News Channel), or The World Over Live on EWTN.

    5. Listen to the news headlines at the top of the hour on the radio, usually a few times per week. Sometimes I listen on the local conservative talk station, and other times on the local NPR station.

    6. Occasionally listen to conservative talk radio (mainly Rush Limbaugh), or to news analysis shows on NPR — taking both with the necessary grain of salt.

    I really should also read my local newspaper or watch the local TV news, because I admit that I am often completely out of the loop on local news. But the items mentioned above keep me up to date on the important national news, with almost zero exposure to TV news.

  25. I, too, had to walk away from the TV after the 2012 election. I was so disgusted with myself for having lost many hours listening to “experts” who finally had NO CLUE what was really going on.

    I check The Drudge Report and Spirit Daily each morning to find out if anything major has happened in the world. I try my best to ignore anything that has to do with violent crime and celebrities. I also try to limit the amount of time I spend on the internet to about 30 to 45 minutes. And no more TV. It’s very liberating!

    Also, I have CommonSense 101 somewhere in the house and never finished reading it. I’ll have to dig it up and finish it!

  26. Dear Mgsr Pope,
    From all the responses to this post, I think you have hit on a resonant point—-one which should concern all of us.
    I gave up on the media at least four years ago all the while determined to be informed. We can do it, and we can do it effectively.
    You asked for some suggestions. These are my favorites:
    1) New Advent—of course!
    2) Crisis Magazine. It has emails daily articles that are intelligent and perceptive and value based. (My favorite!)
    3) New Oxford Review. It comes as a periodical in the mail. Bright, cogent and even witty. (Maybe there are issues available online. I must check.)
    4) First Things. Another paper periodical. It comes out four times a year and it is solid. It has good articles that are relevant
    5) CNA is available as a daily email post for up to date news regarding the Church and global society.
    6) To top it all off, how about the Gospels. Now that’s GOOD NEWS!

    In an age when we must be in the world but not of the world, when “religion editors” of mainstream media are clueless, and when so many values are trounced , we as Catholics have a moral responsibility to remain intelligent and informed.

    Thank you for you articles. I value them. May God bless you work.

  27. “I was also being pelted with lots of dumb information that was not only useless but was quite annoying, such as what certain Hollywood people were doing, thinking, who they were dating, divorcing, or what strange things they were naming their kids or causes they supported, etc.”
    Every time I open my email I have to plow through a glitsy mess of infotainment (love that word, thank you) about silly celebraties doing silly things. Trying not to get resentments about people, who I don’t even know who they are (by their names) but it appears that the site authours seem to be assuming that I should know – or do know.
    “…do not share my faith and even feel free to ridicule what I find sacred, holy and valuable.” ” “Traditional religion, which has given light to millions across the world and across the centuries, is called dull and narrow.”
    It seems that successive generations are being taught that derision, and other subtle emotional violence, trumps the facts which are being brushed aside in favour of emotional statements. I once commented on the subtle brutality of co-depence on someone’s facebook post (facebook and twitter finally drew me in but I didn’t put up with what seemed like tedious annoyance of twitter for very long) that asked about historically significant women. In this I mentioned Lois Wilson; wife Bill Wison who helped to co-found Alcoholics Anonymous; who brought awareness of the subtle violence of co-dependance. Another person stated that brutality was not subtle and, I resisted the impulse to ask if this “third in” commenter was trying to negate the pain of those who experienced the “smile in the face and the knife in the back” because it all originated on a post which was not mine. Now, however, I have overcome a resentment at the third in commenter because it inspired me to add the slogan about smiles and knives to my discussion about how the state (as it usurps the role of fathers in single mother families) seems to be teaching the modern generation of children that emotional violence trumps facts and other aspects of truth. I give credit to God for clarifying my thinking about such sadly manipulative stuff through His gift of The Twelve Steps.
    It seems like this “neutrality”, which is mentioned, is being brought in as a counterfeit replacement of the objectivity that involves work as one steps back and looks at all sides, and significant information of the facts integral in what is being discussed. But then, if we were inclined to insist on objectivity instead of neutrality, I wouldn’t be surprised if the media didn’t abuse their influence to redifine objectivity into the same wishy washy middle ground where neutrality seems to be defined. I envision a comparison to a hypothetical pseudo physicist studying the atom by only looking at the vast empty space between the electrons, protons, neutrons and other sub-atomic particles.
    In response to your challenge; I listen to 106.5 Praise FM based in the Pacific Northwest of the US and Southeastern Canada and, who have a website and can be found on facebook.
    They have regular news reports that don’t seem to have a direct Christian bias but, they do present the news as facts in a way that seems more truthful than the sensational biases found elsewhere. This seemingly objective (in the old sense of objective) presentation sometimes reminds me of John 8:31-34.

  28. Hi Msgr,

    I know that some folks think that NPR is definitely on the left spectrum, but I enjoy their morning news segment for much of the different odds and ends stories that they report upon. From farming, to culture and music, books, and also some of the daily news I think they do a good job of reporting both the news of the day, but even (dare I say) positive news stories! I also like their hourly summary of the major headlines that tell you the news, but don’t get into too much opinion on it.

    Some of their other programming (Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me or Prairie Home Companion) are just good, fun, clean entertainment.

    Also while I know you are in Mass Sunday mornings, CBS News Sunday morning (from 9am-10:30) is also an enjoyable mix of news, education, cultural stories, and again some inspiring and uplifting stories as well.

  29. I quit watching TV news years ago. I also quit listening to talk radio since all it did was make me angry. I read a variety of news sites on the internet and I also read a number of newspapers on the net. I can pick and choose and I get a better picture of what is happening all over the world.

  30. Mnsgr. your article hits home with me. Many conversations with friends include this subject. Coleen Carroll Campbell will have a nightly news show on EWTN beginning in September. She did a wonderful job during the recent Papal election. It’s something to look forward to, and the news will be presented from a Catholic perspective.

    I also recommend her book “My Sisters The Saints” to those who have not read it. I gave a copy to my wife, daughter and daughter-in-laws.


  31. I prefer getting news online from a variety of sources (to hopefully minimize omission of important stories) and viewpoints (to hopefully correct for bias). With my clicks I decide that a story relating to religious freedom or the rule of law are worth my time and the story on Lady Gaga is not. Presumably news sites track which stories are read and so this might in some way constitute a vote for stories of substance as well. I also find this approach a more efficient use of my time.

    We have even done away with cable TV and bought a Roku. We can stream episodes of the shows we like via Netflix and Hulu and even get the live feed from EWTN.

  32. Over the years, we have slowly disengaged from mainstream media. I like the local newspaper and we subscribe to New Advent. In the car, we listen almost exclusively to EWTN.

  33. The Wall Street Journal is very good still. In fact, I would say it is the best paper or magazine for news today, and better than any website. It’s on our breakfast table every morning and has been a crucial part of our children’s education, especially when they have been homeschooled. I think imparting the habit of reading “the Journal” is a very good thing.

    But even with the “the Journal” one needs to use discretion. Occasionally in the Personal section there are offensive articles, or articles on subjects one does not want to read about in the morning or put before one’s family (e.g. yesterday’s piece on whether male sperm counts are declining around the world and why).

    So: read the Journal, and encourage the reading of the Journal, but of course use discretion.

  34. In our house, we now pretty much have lost interest in the mainstream media, keeping abreast instead of news via Radio Vaticana, New Adent and, to an extent, the BBC World Service.

  35. I have nearly given up on the mainstream media, and, if it wasn’t for sports and weather, would give up on tv news. I read the Wall Street Journal daily; if they would run a sports scoreboard, it would nearly be the perfect newspaper. On line, I read the less annoying local metro daily, New Advent, and scroll through the yahoo headlines (the headlines usually tell me plenty). I used to listen to radio news on the way in to work; have replaced it with a rosary CD and don’t miss it at all. I let the very local daily we were getting stop, and get the metro paper on Sunday only because my brother-in-law delivers it.

  36. I listen to classical music on WETA and that is the only thing worth listening to

    1. me too. Also no annoying commericals. WBJC (91.5) is good, too.

      Although I could do without the Saturday afternoon opera.

  37. I stopped watching TV over five years ago except for the occasional “This Old House” show on Saturday mornings, I find the Internet supplies me with enough “news” especially Catholic and some other Christian sites.
    I do have RSS feeds to some secular news feeds such as Yahoo news, but I know which news agencies to avoid because of their strong anti-Catholic bias, such as AP. I find foreign news services are more balanced and fair, such as Agence-France Press.
    The media in general preaches what is ungodly, and subtly tries to change peoples values. This reminds me of what the British journalist and convert to Catholicism said over 60 years ago, that TV is the work of the devil. I think that could generally apply to the American MSM today, especially if you think of the way Hollywood and its TV branch has been successfully changing people around the world to accept ungodly values.

  38. I stopped watching TV over five years ago except for the occasional “This Old House” show on Saturday mornings, I find the Internet supplies me with enough “news” especially Catholic and some other Christian sites.
    I do have RSS feeds to some secular news feeds such as Yahoo news, but I know which news agencies to avoid because of their strong anti-Catholic bias, such as AP. I find foreign news services are more balanced and fair, such as Agence-France Press.
    The media in general preach what is ungodly, and subtly tries to change peoples values. This reminds me of what the British journalist and convert to Catholicism, Malcolm Muggeridge, said over 60 years ago, that TV is the work of the devil. I think that could generally apply to the American MSM today, especially if you think of the way Hollywood and its TV branch have been successfully changing people around the world to accept ungodly values.

    1. Oh, by the way more disturbing news: Gay marriage is legal in the UK, after the Queen gave royal assent to the same-sex marriage bill.

      Well, I feel sorry for the children there. They will be taught all kinds of filth in the class room. I think families should just leave the country and go to other places (I don’t know where, really). I guess they’ll put you in jail now if you speak up against this or refuse to bake cakes for their weddings. I love that a small group of people can bully the majority into submission. Most politicians are just bad people, I guess. And I don’t think they really represent the people but themselves, but that is my opinion.

  39. I have worked in broadcast news and been a news junkie for years. After my conversion, I noticed not only the sinfulness of the subjects and the manipulation of the media, but also my sinfulness in constantly checking my favorite stations and websites for the latest updates, so that I could be the “first” to know something and feed my own pride. Sometimes my curiosity led me to read disturbing stories that kept me awake at night. I stopped watching TV news (all of it), cancelled the paper, and limited the commercial talk-radio time. I am trying to put a limit on my time with online news and check certain websites only once or twice a day. I visit my local tv/newspaper websites, then New Advent, Pewsitter (being careful, some stories link to the Distorter), and Drudge. I scan the ledes, and open very few to read. I follow some blogs and subscribe to ChurchMilitant.TV for the daily reports and other programming. I listen to selected EWTN shows on Sirius. I fill the remaining vacuum with study time to help me learn more about our faith.

  40. In my opinion, one need go no further than:

    Catholic Pulse (News Catholics Need to Know)
    Sponsored by the Knights of Columbus.
    Divided into Church, National, and World headlines.

    Crisis Magazine (A Voice for the Faithful Catholic Laity)
    More in-depth articles on major issues from a Catholic perspective.

    Plus, EWTN Radio.

  41. Perhaps this may be out of the discussion or the subject matter but while we are on the media, I want to share what I come to understand. Feel free to comment on it.
    Finally I understood the meaning of what the heck the difference, between 3D and 2D, is all about. While 2D is the simplest form of what is ‘real’ and only expressed in length and width; in the case of what 3D—length, width, height—is trying to do is that it not only tries to bridge the gap between the imaginary—the created man-made art, for instance in the movie—and the real life, the actual life, but also it attempts to blur the distinction or distance between the represented object and subjective reality. So, what is the significance to my Christian world? From this perspective, it means everything. Yes I live in 3D dimension but the very fact that I come to believe and interact with God who is multi-dimensional Personal God, it means I live also in the realm of infinite possibilities. This, in fact, is the case of Christian faith. So it is inevitable to ask do I have courage (faith) to live this life this way. This does not mean to be irrational and out of order but for God who is as the highest form of order as we can see and observe the rational created world as His evidence, the intelligence of this world, and I the representative (even I live for mere less than 70 years) of this rational existence and experience, I must obey or bow down to this God in love, absolute love all in gratitude for such experience of life. Therefore, my faith is love, and in love I too become one like having a wing, a wing of trust!!!

    God Bless all in the name of His Son, Christ Jesus.

  42. In 1958, Edward R. Murrow lamented the “decadence, escapism and insulation from the realities of the world in which we live” that television used ” to distract, delude, and amuse us” , and dreamt of the day that the then nascent television could “teach, illuminate and even inspire” . Walter Cronkite later followed on with the criticism that news divisions were being pressed to be profit centers, just like the rest of the media business. So today I accept the fact that the media is, in the main, in business to make money. I don’t criticize that. I just adjust my expectations accordingly. As an analyst of the business world, I am also acutely aware, as the media businesses themselves are, of what is increasingly, the banality of their product. As a Catholic, I am sad when I think about the impact on our culture.
    Having said that, I think the internet affords us the opportunity for a broader, big picture, view of the world, some perspective and reason for hope. So with a healthy understanding of the limitation of the media, I suggest the Economist, a glance at the New York Times and Washington Post for the investigative journalism only they can afford (the ten and twenty free articles they offer per month are more than enough if you are discerning), the Wall Street Journal, not for their opinions, but for their look at the business and finance that drives economies and ultimately cultures. My suggestion here is that we take heart in the fact that nearly two billion people have come out of abject poverty in a generation.
    Finally, I look forward each day each day with joy to what several in my church are doing. New Advent, the Catholic News Service and the National Catholic Register are there to tell us what we need to know. And the EWTN weekly view with Raymond Arroyo is soon to be joined by nightly news with Colleen Campbell. I’m thinking this daunting effort could use our patience and our prayers.

  43. Thank you for your posts Msgr, they are daily reading for me. I listen to Catholic radio and use New Advent as a home page and many days that is enough. The two sites I use to stay informed of political news and culture wars are below. They provide a survey of news links filtered by their individual opinions, but I appreciate their filter and satisfies the need to feel informed while reserving more time to stay focused on God.


  44. When I turn on the TV news, I pause it on my TiVo, and spend some time doing some other things. That way when I actually sit down to watch, I can fast-forward through the silly entertainment stuff and the commercials.

  45. Great post. Thank you and GOD Bless you, Monsi. Hahaha. I thought I was losing my mind when I decided to cut cord for I too was a news junkie. Now, my daily dose is EWTN streaming, Catholic Channel, your post, Salvation History of Dr. Scott Hahn, Coming Home of Marcis Grodi, Fr. Robert Barron, select YouTube, skim Washington Post and New York Times articles on iPad only for the purpose of knowing what the left are conjuring to manipulate, so with Foxnews for the right, Vatican news, Catholic Answers, and nightly news of CBS and NBC just to know world and US news and PBS programs. Thanks to the bloggers I am not alone. The HOLY SPIRIT is working hard for the select and for many more. Thank you, HOLY SPIRIT, we continue to pray for more to be illumined.

  46. Books that delve into the broad picture of why we are the way we are historically is a lot better to spend time on than media “buzz.” Right now I am reading an excellent book titled “Worshipping the State: How Liberalism Became Our State Religion” by Benjamin Wiker. He is a Senior Fellow at the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology.
    A while back I read a book of interviews with monks on Mt. Athos (the Orthodox monastic republic). One monk went on a discourse on how visitors sometimes bring little bits of news to their isolation that might be important, but usually aren’t

  47. You echoed my own thoughts as well, I like Zenit, Catholic News report, Lifesite News and I usually just skim the Google News headlines to get the main ideas.Takes a lot of will power to skip clicking on the link though.
    I dislike knowing intimate details of celebrity lives, I consider all that toxic and try to stay away, having said that I will admit its sometimes like driving past an accident , in more ways than one.
    On some level its good to know how bad the culture is Ie , during the papal conclave, I made the mistake of following a link to Huff Post, oh boy , the interview with “female catholic priests”, left me flummoxed and incredulous that such ridiculous blather could even be considered journalisim. On the up side ,its a great way to get inspiration to pray!.
    I too, have gone on occasional news fasts, and blog fasts, If a site leaves me feeling anxious, without hope, I drop it. God bless Father, I will say your blog is a new treat for me.

  48. P.S. Most “news” is run underneath the Reuters umbrella. There isn’t very much that Reuters doesn’t have its fingers in. Remember, they also run Thomson-Reuters –which used to be WestLaw before it’s many incarnations. This should frighten (and inform) any sentient person. Stop being naive.

  49. At work, I listen to a podcast, 45-55 minuters, of The Wall Street Journal that came with the audiobook club that I joined. That costs money. I would not have subscribed to of choice, but, because it came with joining, I do listen to it. I get a rough picture of the big news from that and my non-knowledge of financial events is made even clearer to me. Other than that, I look at the DrudgeReport a few times a day (I have no idea why I look at it more than once a day.) to see if there has been a new disaster.

    Back when there was the USSR, there was a big picture that people could understand. I don’t know to what extent it was fake. Efforts have been made and are being made to reinvent the big picture. As far as I can tell, only one thing is true about the big picture: Christians are being pummeled in one way or another everywhere.

  50. I gave up the BBC for Lent and haven’t gone back. I’ve also recently given up listening to the radio news. So I know what you’re talking about. I think in my case God wants me to do this so I will have more time for prayer and other positive pursuits.

  51. I “unplugged” a couple of years ago because I was literally becoming depressed with all the bad news. Now that the news addiction is broken, I’m back to listening to the morning show on WMAL. The show format is 10 mins segments broken up by traffic and weather. You get all the important headlines in about 30 mins. That’s more than enough, sometimes too much depending on what is being talked about. In the evening, I might scroll through the Drudge headlines and maybe PewSitter.com for the Catholic headlines. I feel that I’m still informed but at the same time, detached enough from the news that what I do hear doesn’t affect me. During my “news detox” period, I managed to build some really good Pandora stations. My baroque/classical station puts WETA to shame!

    PS. – I threw my t.v. away too! Thank you John Senior!

  52. This fall, EWTN is going to start an evening news program; I’m going to give it a try.

  53. I’ve been in the news business — mainly as a photographer and partially a writer — for six years and agree with Msgr. Pope. Naturally, I’m a news junkie, and read both liberal and conservative sources. I’ve grown more and more dissatisfied with reading news, especially of the long form. The BBC is tolerable because its news items are short and try to be as concise with few words as possible. Publications such as the New York Times, the Globe and Mail in Canada have really depressed me with their essay-ish styles, which amounted to lots of writing with very little substance.

    It’s hard to avoid the fluff when a person navigates to these sites. About 80 per cent of the content is advertisement disguised as news, lifestyle stories (eg. a video about a naked yoga studio stood for months), and an assortment of petty features.

    To be fair, the news business does try to be neutral when it comes to serious stories, but when it isn’t, it’s largely affected by sources. Changes in the press flow with changes in secular society. It’s gotten to the point where I’m simply not interested in interviewing most of my subjects anymore, but yet must do a good job until my last day in the office. I’ve resigned from my job.

    I’ve substituted most of my news reading time with prayers these days. Half a year ago, I started going to newadvent.org. The words of wisdom from Msgr. Pope, et al. are more satisfying. Keep it up and thank you.

  54. Two comments mention New Advent. I have used this for several years. The only radio I listen to is, here in Australia, “ABC Classic FM”. This is a radio station which has the odd news item on the hour from 5-00 am up to 9-00 am, then at 12-00 Noon and 1-00 pm, then again at 5-00 pm and 6-00 pm. Each news broadcast is only for five minutes and the rest of the time the station broadcasts Classical music. It runs 24 hours every day.
    For me, most of the day my TV is off. I can and do receive EWTN from time to time and I do watch local TV for evening news and also some programmes but I am careful what I choose to watch because so many are very left-wing and I avoid them.
    If I am an addict it is to the internet and then, usually, for Catholic blogs like this one, which New Advent suggests.

  55. For comfort and the Truth Catholic radio, as you know.
    For the painful truth about domestic politics with humour and insight: Rush Limbaugh

  56. I agree with the others on this page. I too am doing more praying. I had to give up EWTN because I can not afford the Dish.I really loved that station.
    Will send information on this page to my e-mail friends. Ellen & her Angels

  57. Here’s one: Catholic Pulse, a daily news site run by the Knights of Columbus. You can get a daily email of headlines from them, then click any headline to go to the site. They divide stories as to whether the story is national, international, or church news–and they seem to do a good job picking stories that are of importance and excluding gratuitous and/or gruesome stories that you don’t need to know. (Some otherwise good sites, even Catholic ones, give too much gory detail for my taste and well-being sometimes!)

    Also, don’t most news sites let you set up an RSS feed to send a headline list to your internet browser, by topic, and then you can review them at will in a drop-down list- or something like that? Then you can radically reduce the detail and image overload and pick what you want to explore more.

    I do think we need to hear some things promptly so we can pray about them, because all of our prayers CAN and DO impact the course of world events in the present moment. That’s where targeted alerts/updates by email are helpful, from selected organizations. But I’m sure you get those already! For example, it helps to know that Hobby Lobby will be in court tomorrow, because we can all pray for the Lord be merciful to us and grant them victory in this next step of their case against the evil, unconstitutional, un-American HHS mandate. (Anyone reading this on Thurs/Fri, PRAY!)

  58. What I do is glance over the headlines (and intro summaries) on google news or WTOP.Com and then if a story interests me, I google it. The headlines are enough for me to get an idea if I want to read the story or not. I also use my facebook page for select sources. I like that you get a few lines and usually a descriptive enough healine that you know if you want to read it and you can also be up enough on the trivia that I don’t be come culturally detached to the point of not being able to decipher pop cultural references and use them when appropriate with certain age groups.

  59. Although I’ve been struggling with the same conundrum for many years, sadly, I’ve come to the conclusion that there are no objective news outlets, (if there ever were). I’m simply tired of hearing about everyone’s personal agenda, and the blatant, unforgivable dismissal in the media of anything that might reference God. I simply use the Internet and scan headlines, (trying not to click the links) across the myriad of polarized news sites that work feverishly 24/7/365 to keep us all polarized and engaged in Group-Think.

    And even the Christian and Catholic media (also heavily polarized) it’s either hypocritically holier than thou or borderline heretical. Sirius XM has an afternoon program (with a Priest) that frankly I cannot believe is still on the air. (That’s all I’ll say about that).

    So I’m reading my Bible more, Philosophy/Logic, G.K. CHESTERTON and some fiction and figure if it’s REALLY news I’ll hear about it one way or the other. When I stop hearing about the news I’ll either be dead, or it’ll be the Second Coming, so the news won’t matter.

    While many of you have good intentions to provide Msgr. Pope with avenues to stay in touch with the news cycle and not feel, as so many of us do, that we’re stuck in the food court at the Sodom & Gomorrah mall, I might remind you that a huge percentage of news outlets receive their, “news” from either the AP, AHN and UPI news wire services. Across the pond it’s PA and Reuters.

    These massive conglomerate wire services can effectively slant the news in any way they want based upon the old social mechanisms they often manipulate of race, class, religion (or lack thereof), politics and gender.

    These media outlets are best described, in my opinion, by:

    Proverbs 6:16-19
    “There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.”

    Today’s news services, again in my opinion, have done all of this, and continue to, whenever they purposefully ratchet up the tensions in this country, (at the cost of innocent lives) simply to create more news.

    Makes me recall the lyrics from two songs, Don Henley’s “Dirty Laundry”

    “We can do the Innuendo
    We can dance and sing
    When it’s said and done
    We haven’t told you a thing
    We all know that Crap is King
    Give us dirty laundry”

    and John Mayer singing,

    “Cause when they own the information, oh
    They can bend it all they want …”

    And you all know what the acronym N.E.W.S really means don’t you? “Never Ever (the) Whole Story”

    – Pax Christi

  60. Its a tricky situation nowadays, many news sources are misleading and unreliable. But in spite of this we must continue to stay informed about whats going on in our world for our own good. As Catholics we have a responsibility to be informed of what’s going on, so that we can continue to be able to do good in the world.

  61. A lot of commenters are suggesting NewAdvent.

    I used to go there frequently. I applaud Kevin and volunteers for making the Catholic Dictionary and writings of the Fathers free, digital, searchable.

    But I noticed during the run-up to the last election season that Kevin never seemed to link to news about the progress same-sex marriage activists were making in the states of Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, and Washington.

    Obviously there was an excess of coverage in the mainstream news, all of it favorable, and then plenty of Catholic responses online.

    One could argue that SSM is a lesser evil; Kevin included plenty of links on the HHS mandate, and pro-life efforts.

    But he picks and chooses what to include. He did not include any news about the march of SSM. So, like any news aggregator, you get what he wants you to get, and it may not be enough.

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