It’s entirely too easy these days to avoid news coverage or journalistic opinions pieces that might make us uncomfortable. Selective news consumption itself may not be a novel practice, but the tools at our disposal enable the process more smoothly than ever before: See something on your Facebook feed that you don’t like? Sweep it under the rug with a click.
While this power can be used for good—hiding spam, for example, or that one friend’s endless outpouring of trite listicles—it also enables us to control the perspectives through which the world is presented to us. That may not be a good thing.
Various commenters have seized upon the metaphor of nutrition: news consumption, like a healthy diet, ought to be varied and balanced. Equally important, it shouldn’t incorporate too many indulgences.
Reporting and opinions that we already know we’re going to like are the desserts of this metaphor. They’re satisfying, but insufficient for a broad and nuanced understanding of the world. As tempting as it may be, we need to include the metaphorical vegetables: thorough reporting on topics we don’t yet understand and opinions that contradict our own in new and challenging ways.
As far as we know, nobody has yet extended this metaphor to the local food movement. We’d like to try: just as the value of food sourced from nearby communities has been reemphasized with the expansion of mass agriculture, it’s crucial that we preserve the local news institutions that provide contextualized coverage.
It seems that college students may be particularly prone to looking outward for our news. We’re rightly concerned about national trends, global issues and problems that reach beyond any of our individual communities. Still, it’s worth remembering that localized news often taps into the texture and spirit of a place better than any roaming reporter or stringer can.
For students, this means paying attention to on-campus publications. We’ll gladly recommend our own coverage, but we’re also thankful that, despite the 5Cs’ lack of a journalism department, there are multiple student publications contributing reporting and commentary to the discourse here. Often overlooked, too, are the Claremont Courier and the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin—valuable news sources for anybody looking to understand our surroundings. Two weeks ago the Los Angeles Times also announced that it is relaunching a section of the newspaper dedicated to California, after a five-year hiatus prompted by decreasing print ad revenue.
If you’re already a regular reader of the news, consider broadening your daily trawl: Check out some local sites, and see how their coverage compares. The level of polish may not always be quite on par with corporate-funded journalistic megaliths, but you’ll likely find passion and vibrancy as strong as any and an appreciation for detail that can only come from immersion.
And add in some pieces that really get your goat, too: Pick out a few opinions you expect to disagree with, and take time to digest them. No, these won’t tickle your palate as much as your favorite columnists or interviewers, but we guarantee that the time you spend ruminating will help to nourish a more complete and honest understanding of the journalistic landscape. And, just like at a good meal, there’s no harm in enjoying a little dessert once you’ve had your veggies.