What's Making Me Happy

Source: Nieman Journalism Lab

It's a long standing complaint of many people that the news is too depressing, and thus many people - myself included - avoid the evening news, the newspaper and internet news sites. I especially dislike local news sites, where currently every other news story is about St. Patrick's Day related information (including pot, because marijuana is green, and so is now automatically part of St. Patrick's Day) or is about a dead body, a suffering animal, a beating or some other kind of crime/violence/barf. I firmly believe that most news - local news, network news, cable news - is not about the actual news but is about freaking you out because on a superficial level we love crazy, gory stuff. So the news becomes more like Law and Order instead of actually informing the public about what's happening in the world.

To sum up: I don't like news. I avoid the news. When I have dinner with my parents and they're watching the news I always whine and complain until they finally give me the remote (because sometimes I still act like a five year old).

Note: This does not include television news shows such as The Colbert Report and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart because even though these are so-called "fake news shows" they're a hell of a lot more informative and less sensationalized than "real" news shows.

Real news, brought to you by the Comedy Central Tumblr.

But I listen to NPR all. the. time.

I grew up listening to NPR all the time, because when you're a kid you don't really have a say in the car radio. So on the Sunday trip from mass to post-mass lunch, my family listened to Prairie Home Companion. On the way to Saturday morning riding lessons, we listened to Wait Wait Don't Tell Me. On the way to school, we listened to Fresh Air. And any time the TV wasn't on, which was often because we didn't have cable for most of my childhood, we had NPR playing instead.

And oh my God, I hated it.

It was boring. It was all news, and news is depressing (we've covered this already). It played weird music. And no one else I knew listened to it (they were all listening to the country station, or the pop music station or the typical mind-numbing disc jockeys who use sound effects because they really have nothing of substance to say). I was young, so basically my perspective was, "Entertain me, world!"

Source: UPROXX

This is turning into a much longer post than I anticipated, so let me shorten it up by saying: I grew up, I grew out of my entertainment phase, and I listen to NPR constantly now. I listen to the podcasts (Pop Culture Happy Hour and Wait Wait being my two favorite right now), I listen in my car on the way to work and home from work, I listen on my runs, I listen while cleaning dishes. I'm basically my parents. Which is fine, except that I'm a young, single lady and I'm pretty sure society frowns upon young, single ladies acting like people who receive Social Security.

But I really don't care. NPR has a way of presenting news in the most factually useful way. They don't sensationalize their news items, so I don't feel violated or pandered to, their voices are all calming (is this a training they have to go through?) and their variety of websites and media outlets cover a huge amount of topics, from how to pronounce "gif" (I, too, get annoyed by the hard g sound people make) to SXSW to the economy. As I'm teaching economics next year (to seniors! The Holy Grail of high school!) I'm thrilled with the economics blog produced by NPR. I'm devouring it this weekend.

I know NPR has a certain reputation, such as being liberally-biased, boring and that people who listen to it are pretentious hipsters. But really, NPR is very straightforward in its reporting, not giving so much opinion as much as just presenting the facts, which, by the way, is what the news is supposed to do. And the idea that NPR is boring and pretentious is promoted by people who are themselves boring and uninformed (which is a nice way of saying dumb) but at the same time are trying to seem smarter than they really are, which is the actual definition of pretentious.

In other words:


So, thanks, NPR, for informing me without the scare tactics, for helping me stay informed about the world, and at least helping me feel and sound smart.

PS This is a gif of the US population. Ain't it cool?

Source: UN Population Division Credit: Quoctrung Bui/NPR

And then here is the gif of Japan's population. Fascinating!

Source: UN Population Division Credit: Quoctrung Bui/NPR

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