The sensationalized news writing style that has become increasingly employed by politically oriented mainstream news outlets has created an emotional minefield for readers, creating an overall sense of anxiety, dread and rage.
To illustrate this, here are various headlines from politically oriented mainstream media outlets regarding a recent GOP debate):
“In a fiery GOP debate, candidates sparred over foreign policy and abortion – and things quickly got personal”, and “Do you want Dick Cheney in 3-inch heels?” Nikki Haley came under sustained attack at the GOP Presidential debate”.
By contrast, the neutral Reuters headline was “Takeaways from the Third 2024 Republican presidential debate”.
For the sake of being able to read the news without unnecessary media-manufactured anxiety, I suggest:
· Focus your attention on neutral news sources. Examples of this generally are Reuters and BBC. Another useful service is 1440, which delivers three brief news articles per day, reported from a neutral perspective. For a political but balanced report, The Flip Side sends out basic news, along with each political parties’ position on the reported news. The writing style is fairly light. 1440 and The Flip Side are both free subscriptions.
· Being aware of how much news you are reading, and what you are getting out of the experience. By this I mean if you already know the facts of an upsetting situation, but are now seeking out emotionally-charged quotes, disturbing personal accounts, or upsetting photographs, i.e. going down a rabbit hole – take a break to ask yourself what you are really seeking. How are you feeling before you look for the information? During your exposure to it? And afterwards? For example, you may feel anxious when you see the upsetting headline, feel numb when you encounter upsetting additional material, and then feel outraged afterwards. And perhaps you prefer feeling outraged or numb to feeling anxious. In this case, reading news that is more neutrally written will help you be informed, but will spare you the unnecessary emotional roller-coaster of encountering traumatically graphic material. Perhaps you feel guilty for being safe and feel less guilty if you are exposed to the trauma that the upsetting material creates within you.
If there is news you find upsetting, rather than hurting yourself unnecessarily with unneeded exposure, consider engaging in related volunteer work, or donations to help improve the situation.