Reading the news considered harmful

I’ve been without Internet, email, or telephone (brought the phone; forgot the charger) for two weeks here in Greece and therefore have missed out on the news.  Checking today from Santorini it appears that absolutely nothing actually new has been reported.  Hurricanes and typhoons have struck various places that get hurricanes and typhoons every year.  People who have hated each other for a long time continue to skirmish.   Politicians have given speeches and interviews where all questions are answered vaguely and blandly.  I’ve long thought that it is much better to invest time in books and magazine articles rather than the newspaper and every time that I’m away from the news this belief is deepened.  Yet most people can’t resist reading the newspaper in the morning or clicking the “News” icon in the Google toolbar.  Could this be a source of economic and intellectual stagnation?

A very creative and productive friend says “I’ve found that if I read the New York Times in the morning I won’t get any serious work accomplished for the rest of the day.”  His theory is that because the information in the newspaper is scattered, without supporting background information or sustained argument, the result is a disrupted and scattered focus in the reader’s mind.

Thoughts and experiences?  Anyone else noticed a correlation between refraining from catching up on the news and getting real work done?

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