By Karen Hansen, RTDNA
Today is News Engagement Day, a day “everyone is encouraged to read, watch, like, tweet, post, text, email, listen to, or comment on news.”
Yesterday my Twitter feed was a stream of disturbing information and visuals coming faster than I could absorb, leaving me feeling numb and helpless. So much of the news lately has been bad, from Harvey to Maria to Las Vegas, it would be understandable to want to just tune it all out instead of engage.
And beside the bad news, we’re now plagued by "fake news," whether in the form of well-reported stories the subject simply found disagreeable, or tall tales spread not by responsible newsrooms but individuals with agendas. Another invitation to disengage?
No. Not for me, and, I hope, not for you.
Why? Tuning news out won't change it and robs you of the opportunity to learn, think critically, and maybe even act to make a difference in your community.
Engaging with news can bring hope, too. During every disaster, journalists also bring stories of hope, and sometimes, like during Harvey, even happy endings brought to you by journalists live on air.
Here are my tips on how to get engaged without getting down:
- Get some tips on identifying and fighting “fake news” from this recent discussion featuring RTDNA Chair Scott Libin.
Don’t feel lost when you see the “fake news” label tossed around Twitter. Build your media literacy skills so you’ll be confident sorting the fact from the “fake.”
- Check out solutions journalism stories, which can help you critically evaluate, with all the rigor of investigative reporting, the people who claim to be offering solutions.
Hearing a story about a pressing issue can make you feel helpless. Try finding a story about how someone’s trying to help or solve the problem. Then think about how you can get involved too, whether that’s donating money or blood or contacting your government representatives.
- Stick to a select mix of credible sources.
Sometimes, sheer information overload makes keeping up with the news seem like too much. You’ll never be able to read every story from every source, so don’t try to. Curate a healthy mix of go-to local, national, and international outlets. I also follow a few trusted individuals who share news from reliable sources I don’t regularly read.
- Turn it off (sometimes).
Designate a phone-free hour. Watch an entire movie without checking Facebook. Take a long weekend camping in LTE-free woods somewhere. Even if you’re a news junkie, you can avoid burnout and real mental health effects by building in some breaks from news.
- Support the journalists doing this every day!
RTDNA members are deeply engaged in bringing the public critical news which holds the powerful accountable and sometimes even save lives, but it’s getting harder. Journalists are facing increasing vitriol and even assault or arrest. Support RTDNA’s training, resources and legal help for broadcast and digital journalists by becoming a member and contributing to the RTDNF.
So, how will you engage with news today?
Follow along on Instagram today as I show you how I engage with news every day! Find us @RTDNA.RTDNF!
For more on National News Engagement Day, an effort to show that being informed is empowering, enjoyable and essential for a healthy democracy, please visit www.newsengagement.org, and be sure to let us know how you plan to get involved!