A recent article by Joel Gascoigne caught my eye.

Around 2 years ago I stopped reading and watching mainstream news. I don’t read a single newspaper, offline or online, and I don’t watch any TV at all. I recently mentioned this on Twitter and Facebook and it created a lot of discussion, so I wanted to expand on my thoughts and experiences.

The piece is titled The Power of Ignoring Mainstream News and it’s worth a read in its entirety.

I’ve had a very similar experience, and Joel’s article reminded me of why I stopped consuming most mainstream news in the first place: They get just about everything that’s important about a story wrong.

While far from an expert, I've got some experience in the military and tech fields both as a professional and an enthusiast. It's been my consistent perception that when reporting on these two fields, the mainstream media tends to misinterpret the facts, misidentify the root causes and draw incorrect conclusions about the long-term importance of most events.

It’s not that any single other resource does that much better, but large media outlets tend to have a great deal of (increasingly imperiled and undeserved) credibility. What they say tends to be interpreted as pretty close to the truth.

All I can think is, “if I know they get military and tech reporting so wrong, why should I believe them about anything else?”

I’m sure this isn’t the result of any malign agenda (usually) but instead comes from a need to cover a broad range of topics for an audience of non-experts. Unfortunately, the devil is almost always in the details, and it’s easy to oversimplify and generalize (yes, as I’m doing right now) when you need to come up with a coherent story from an inherently messy reality.

How do you avoid mainstream media and stay aware of and engaged with world events? Let me know when you figure it out.

I try to find more nuanced reporting and it’s usually out there. The Economist and Foreign Affairs magazines come to mind although I’m sure there are more. The more sources you read, the easier it is to find the common threads that hint at a deeper truth. I guess that’s why my RSS feed is so full all the time.

Maybe all this multi-source reading is turning us into the actual reporters. Maybe the ones who don’t have time for all that research have to make do with picking a single source they can trust. Maybe I’m just cherry-picking sources that fit my pre-existing worldview.

In the end maybe there isn’t that much difference after all.