Friday, 30 July 2010

There is something to be said for not being in the know

With the prospect of a job interview looming uncertainly on the horizon I was recently prompted to delve into the newspapers, resolving that it was time to abandon my current self-imposed oblivion in order to appear well-informed.

It was only a brief foray. There wasn’t much in the paper that didn’t make me sink into a moody glumness and, before long, I was desperately searching for a valid distraction to justify chucking it into the recycling. The front page read: “Fit to work test blocks 76% of benefit claims” and “Energy revolution could put bills up by a third”. S n o o o o o o z z z z z e e e…

Sadly, the pace didn’t pick up as I leafed through the subsequent pages: depressing trends from yesteryear to further compound the recession-blues, demoralising predictions about everything from the moral worth of our children to the property market, spine-chilling horror stories about grizzly assaults, ‘pioneering’ medical research that either confirms the bloody obvious or conflicts with every grain of common sense (the latest being a report that alcohol can reduce arthritis, which was ironically juxtaposed next to an article about closing pubs earlier).

Amidst this humdrum jumble of dreary news I did stumble across a couple of livelier stories. My favourite part of the paper was undoubtedly the small corner of space headlined, “Mother finds five-foot snake in the laundry”. In fact, it wasn’t just a good corner but a good page, the rest being taken up by a large, colour photograph of two swallows having a spat. Another page that stood out from the dull offerings featured an article about a woman who ended up swimming 64 miles when crossing the 21mile Channel. Now that is the sort of thing I want to read over breakfast to ease me into the day - not that authorities are planning on closing pubs early!

In addition to rooting out the upbeat reports sandwiched between the monotony, I also discovered that once you have trudged through the national news, World News is a breeze in comparison. What’s going on in China is generally much more interesting than happenings in the UK. In optimistic anticipation of this potential interview, my new tactic is to fast track my way through the papers straight to World News. At least that way I will look up-to-date globally.

I recognise that it pays to be well-informed, and that papers can't just print light-hearted, annecodotal stories to make the public smile. I can understand that unfortunately, more often than not, important issues make for boring reading. However, does the British press need to be quite so cynical and negative about the future? Do they really need to devote so much space to stats about last year? Does the public really need yet more conflicting medical advice?

However, perhaps my frustration with national news is misplaced. Maybe I am just reading the wrong paper!

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