Monday, August 06, 2007

News vacation

I am back. I was so burned out right before summer vacation that I just let the Mojo Mom blog go dark last week. I apologize for the abrupt escape, but I really needed to get away from work and step out of my regular life for a few days.

Being away gave me great perspective on work/life balance. The break showed me the never-ending hamster wheel I had built for myself. Now that I am back with renewed perspective, can I make some changes? My main challenge is to get my daily work done with enough time left over to work on longer-term projects as well.

It's time that I take to heart the advice of productivity experts who recommend checking email only a couple of times a day. I won't debate whether the internet is a true addiction, but the online connection sure can be a time sink. Being a writer and blogger requires that I stay on top of the news, but the information flow doesn't change as often as I hit the "refresh browser" or "get email" buttons.

Unplugging from the news was a fantastic luxury. I highly recommend trying it at least one week per year, or whenever you feel like you need to hit your mental reset button. I managed to blog over on (parent.thesis) until our broadband connection gave out at the end of the week, but when it went out it was actually a little bit of a relief. I could feel myself pulling away mentally, not really wanting to hear the latest news updates. Jumping in the lake and playing with my family seemed much more appealing.

I happened to come across the book version of Fark.com while I was away. While the book could have been better-written, it did point out the 8 classes of "go-to stories mass media uses when there's not enough hard news to fill a newspaper or a news broadcast."

Waiting in the Detroit airport yesterday, I was subjected to about an hour of live CNN, and it was indeed full of the inane stories that Fark reports on. The most egregious reporting was a toothless Q&A with an author who claims that liberal foundations are ruining America (what Fark classifies as "equal time for nut jobs"). Somehow conservative foundations were no problem, a fact that was glossed over with puffball questions.

The laziest piece of reporting was drawn out over about an hour, revealing the top 5 reasons people have sex, one reason at a time. The newscaster sounded especially embarrassed to keep coming back with "After the break, the #3 reason people have sex," because none of the reasons were at all surprising, for example "It feels good." That's a non-news-flash if I've ever heard one, but since there was a study about it and the subject was sex, it was media fuel.

So don't stop reading the Mojo Mom blog, but feel free to tune out CNN any time you wish!

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2 Comments:

Anonymous Sarah Zeldman said...

So...what are "tshe 8 classes of "go-to stories mass media uses when there's not enough hard news to fill a newspaper or a news broadcast."

I'm very curious...

9:09 PM  
Blogger MojoMom said...

Here is a good summary of the FARK book, from an Amazon.com reader review written by Robert D. Steele:

Here is an even faster overview of mass (corporate-dominated) media:
1) Fearmongering
2) Unpaid (and paid) placement pretending to be news
3) Headlines contradicted by content
4) Equal time for nut jobs (extreme right and extreme left as well as lunatics)
5) Out of context celebrity commentary
6) Seasonal garbage
7) Media fatigue
8) Lesser media space fillers

All of the above are called the "news hole" around which advertising, op-eds, and other garbage are placed.

4:12 PM  

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