I consume many different kinds of media. I read my local newspaper in the morning, I follow several journalists on Twitter, read various news websites throughout the day and I read magazines like the New Yorker. Two sources of news, however, command more of my attention than any other.
I’ll tell you about the one I’m proud of first. I spend a lot of time listening to two of NPR’s programs: All Things Considered and my favorite, Marketplace, which has made business news palatable to me. Not only does Marketplace partner with the Freakanomics guys, whoever is in charge of their music is awesome. No other business program lets me know how the stock market did during the day using “We’re In the Money” or wah-wah trombones, which is the only way I can understand it, since the actual stock prices make no sense to me.
My other big news source? Not nearly so highbrow. I read the kind of gossip news that’s “reported” by the paparazzi. I’m talking about the sort of celebrity stories that pop up in my news reader when I attempt to check my email. Gone are the days when I tried to change my Yahoo settings so that real news would show up instead. I’ve given up. Now I want to know which teenage set of twins have moved into the Playboy Mansion with Hugh Hefner. And yes, I’d love to know how Kim Kardashian is coping these days.
No matter that these news sites elevate useless people to celebrity status. No matter that it’s a waste of time to read it. No matter that the agents of these sites are irresponsible journalists who infringe on the lives of famous people, sometimes putting them in physical danger. And yes, I’m aware that if celebrities were animals, there would be an outcry against this kind of unethically gathered news. But since the paparazzi is considered to be the price of fame, the only protest we ever see comes in the form of each new single and/or video released by Britney Spears.
The unintended consequence of spending so much time on two disparate news sources is that I’ve begun to mishear things. A few days ago, when the stock numbers were being read, I thought that Cher had fallen six percent. This summer I was convinced I ‘d heard that Björk finally had a tax plan. And this week, during a story about a power plant, I heard that Japanese scientists had the Situation under control. I know what the reporter meant, but that didn’t stop me from seeing , in my mind’s eye, Michael Sorrentino from The Jersey Shore being held down while Japanese scientists forced him to put on a shirt.
I do know that I have to give up the celebrity news. There are nights when I’m not feeling great and instead of a junk food binge, I find myself wandering through the links on TMZ and OMG, clucking about Leann Rimes’ weight and trying to determine for myself is Ashton is really cheating on Demi. And no trip to a gossip site would be complete without checking in on Lindsay Lohan. But these binges are never satisfying. They’re like the spiritual equivalent of eating a meal from McDonald. I go in thinking I’m being wicked and indulgent and I come out feeling kind of sick.
So yes, I should definitely cut back. But I’m not going to lie. I’ll miss mishearing the news.