Is Reading The News Bad For You?

A newspaper vendor in London. From here.
A newspaper vendor in London. From here.

While reading a blog entry this weekend, I clicked on a link to an absolutely brilliant article on The Guardian by Rolf Dobelli called News is bad for you. I read the entire article and then saw it was adapted from a much longer article that you can read here on Dobelli’s website. I’d recommend reading the longer version if you have time—though, at the very least, do consider reading the shorter version on The Guardian.

As someone who used to avidly read the news in English, then avidly read it in two languages (English and Russian), then read it a bit less avidly in Russian, and now doesn’t read nearly as much news now, I absolutely loved the article.

Dobelli makes the following points for why reading the news is bad. I’ve copied them from the longer article I linked to—I don’t think the shorter version hits all of these points. I’m also not going to explain all of them because I want you to read the full article. 🙂

  1. News misleads us systematically
  2. News is irrelevant
  3. News limits understanding
  4. News is toxic to your body
  5. News massively increases cognitive errors
  6. News inhibits thinking
  7. News changes the structure of your brain
  8. News is costly
  9. News sunders the relationship between reputation and achievement
  10. News is produced by journalists
  11. Reported facts are sometimes wrong, forecasts always
  12. News is manipulative
  13. News makes us passive
  14. News gives us the illusion of caring
  15. News kills creativity

Though I can relate to all of these points, number thirteen resonated with me the most. Realizing that I couldn’t influence things I care about—the war in Ukraine is a prime example because, let’s face it, I’m not a policymaker and even if I were, I’d probably have to follow orders from someone higher up in policy circles—used to make me sad. Ever since I stopped obsessively following this event, I have felt much better.

Another important point is number eight. By “news is costly,” Dobelli means that reading the news consumes a lot of time. I second this. And if you think reading the news is a time suck, try blogging about it, too. That’s part of the reason why I’ve gradually moved away from blogging about Russian politics. With all the other stuff I have going on (writing, violin playing, and, you know, my actual full-time job), it was just taking up too much time and making me stressed.

Dobelli’s solution is to cut reading the news out of your life entirely. I haven’t managed to do that quite yet. I still read about culture-related stuff on many major Russian news websites. I also follow quite a few Russian news outlets on Twitter, so every time I pull up my Twitter feed, I see something related to current events. I’m tempted to stick all of my Russian news sources into a Twitter list so I have to actively click to see those tweets. After all, if I realize that I don’t want to be completely cut off from news, it’s pretty easy to go back to reading it. (And at this point, a break probably would be beneficial because I’m studying for my first professional certification and really need to study more.)

I want to emphasize that neither I nor Dobelli, the author of this fabulous essay, advocate being ignorant. Dobelli recommends reading more substantial works, such as intellectually-minded magazines like Science, Nature,, and The New Yorker, as well as books. I fully support reading books and certain magazines. (I’m partial to Discover and National Geographic myself.) I’ve been working on the same two books for a while now because I keep getting distracted with other things. Nevertheless, I’m pleased with my reading progress this year.

What do you think? Do you read the news? Do you plan to stop reading it after seeing these arguments?


6 thoughts on “Is Reading The News Bad For You?

  1. Hi, found your blog through your comment on Lindsay Buroker’s site.

    I haven’t watched a news program or visited a news site in more than a year. I don’t miss out on learning about important events. If it’s big enough news will reach me. Corporate news is always selling something and it’s not happiness. I’ve struggled with depression my whole life and I grew up in a family that watched the news everyday. But I’ve been much happier since I cut out the news. It’s a weight off the shoulders.

    I also only spend about 20 minutes each day online and stay off Facebook except to keep up with friends about once each week. I don’t discuss politics online or share political posts and so forth. That stuff is toxic for me. I don’t have cable TV.

    I do keep up with science, some tech, and some news for a hobby I enjoy, all quality sources. But I will disengage with a site if it’s too argumentative or likes to stir controversy.

    Also, I still participate in society as much as ever. I vote every election, big and small. I regularly write my congressman and senators too.


    1. Hey, thanks for your comment. I saw your reply to what I wrote on Lindsay’s blog entry. 🙂

      Yeah, I quit Facebook earlier this year and am SO happy I did. I don’t have cable TV, either, and I’ve really scaled back on the politics stuff. I do read updates about classical music, one thing I really like (which you’ll see if you start reading this blog!). Overall, I agree 100% with what you said.


  2. Hi Natalie! Good post! There’s a lot to think about there…

    When we were living in Ukraine, following the news became an unhealthy way of life. I agree with you- there’s definitely a psychic weight to words and knowledge. Plus, a lot of people use their articles to put out agendas that they’re presenting as facts. Seeing what was happening around us in Kharkiv vs what was actually being reported made me realize what a huge gap there is at times between reality and journalism. At first we consumed so much media… then we almost gave it up.

    I don’t follow any Russian media- only the blogger Varlamov- but my father-in-law plus my best friend’s father (both Russians) lived outside of Russia and were OBSESSED with the Russian internet news. Watching them throughout the years- it’s like that media is radiation. A little is okay, but a lot will poison you. Sometimes my husband starts falling into that hole- I know when he’s been doing it because he’s suddenly very gloomy and grumpy.

    Anyways, long response to your post :p but yeah, it’s difficult to balance the responsibility we all have to be aware of the world with the propaganda and clickbait that’s out there.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can definitely relate! I doubt I’ll ever stop reading the news altogether, as I want to read daily in Russian and sometimes, all I have time for are some news articles, not a book. (Though I do prefer reading books!) Following it too much, though, does put me in a really bad mood! The first time it happened, I wasn’t sure why I was so angry, until I realized it was because of reading the news too much.

      Now I’m trying to focus more on cultural stuff—I like classical music, so reading about that in Russian makes me happy (and helps me learn vocab). I’m also trying to find some bloggers to follow—if your husband or friends who speak Russian follow any good ones, please let me know (and I will check out Varlamov, too).

      And clickbait? OMG don’t even get me started about that! 😉


      1. Here’s Varlamov’s site:

        I am addicted to the travel photos there- pictures from all over the world: Indian slums, British streetmarkets, the spring puddles of Ufa, Moscow holidays, street art in Detroit, you name it. The accompanying articles are straightforward and pretty easy for a learner to understand. And none of those annoying sidebar ads of jiggling stomach fat 😉

        Liked by 1 person

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