I used to be an information addict, but these days I rarely read newspapers or turn on the news.
Maybe I’m just getting old but I’ve found trying to keep informed makes it very difficult for me to be optimistic.
I’m not just talking about the conflicts and crimes that feature in most of the stories.
They don’t make the human race look very attractive, but I can accept that many people are interested in that stuff and I know I used to be.
What really bugs me is the way the less serious stuff is often presented.
Coverage of this year’s men’s Wimbledon tennis final is a good example of what I mean.
The day after Andy Murray defeated Milos Raonic in three close sets the British victor’s image was splashed across all the UK papers.
No shock there; the surprise was that I picked up one of them. Being a tennis fan, I was quite pleased to discover 24 pages of The Daily Mail devoted to Wimbledon.
Then, when I actually read the articles and looked closely at the pictures, I got quite irritated.
There were plenty of images of the local hero crying, punching the air and holding the trophy over his head.
However, there were far more shots of his wife and of Princess Kate and other famous women in the crowd, and most of the stories seemed to be about what they were wearing.
There was surprisingly little about the match, and not a single picture of Milos Raonic.
Yeah, I know, people are fascinated by the rich and famous but really; 24 pages and next to nothing about one of the two players?
The Canadian might not be as pleasant to look at as Andy’s wife but he did play a significant role in the tournament.
Anyway, the reason that kind of thing gets me down is it highlights the fact that many newspapers are preoccupied with giving their audience what they think they want so the readers will keep buying the paper.
They want to maximise readership so advertisers can be charged more for their space.
I have known that to be the case for a long time but it still bugs me.
I think if publications want to call themselves newspapers they have a responsibility to at least make an effort to provide accurate and balanced coverage, even if the event is just a tennis match.
I’m also disturbed that some people want to know what brand of sunglasses Kim Murray wore on the day and how much they cost… but obviously they do.
Ah, that feels better.
Anyway, I’m not saying reading newspapers, listening to the radio or watching the news on TV are silly things to do.
They aren’t and I used to do them all.
My intention is simply to put a warning out there to let you know that when we pick up a paper or switch on the news we are not simply getting facts, and quite often the things that are being sold are not presented as advertising.
Of course that’s just my opinion… but that’s why this is piece is called a column.