In our society, abundance is widely considered a good thing. However, many of us know that it can have a dark side too. If one isn’t intentional about what he or she consumes, it can lead to some unfortunate consequences.
Unfortunately there’s not nearly enough discussion on how to be a more mindful consumer of news — which is plentiful and often free. But if we simply apply some mindful techniques with understanding we are on the right path when consumed media.
With this in mind, here are three strategies to consider if you want to be a more purposeful consumer of news. Each of these ideals has been reversed engineered from the many hours I spent as a media designer and art director where my main job was getting eyeballs on client stories, brands and products.
Balance the Three Pathways to News
In a digital environment there are arguably only three pathways to news: direct engagement, referrals via search engines and serendipitous discovery through social media.
In the case of direct engagement, you are in 100% control of where you focus your attention. You decide what news apps to download, what sites to bookmark and what email newsletters and podcasts are worth subscribing to. And it’s relatively easy to opt out.
In the case of search, you are partially in control. Once you enter your keywords, a highly tuned algorithm that is backed by 20 years of data and a relentless focus on quality strips out most of the junk and delivers relevant results.
With social media, it can be a different story. You only have two choices — who to friend/follow and what to click. Then content finds you through the lens of your friends. This human aspect can greatly influence what news makes it into your feed. Quality can vary based on the social network, the device, the time of day, your friends, your previous clicks and more.
All three have merits but what they deliver can differ vastly. Just as with asset allocation, it’s important to balance your time across all three modes of news discovery and not over index on any one of them.
Follow the Money. Invest Time Where You Don’t Feel Duped
The following saying holds much truth in todays media world – “follow the money.”
Most publishers have two or three core revenue streams — advertising, subscriptions and services (research/events). Advertising is usually the largest. If you feel a publisher you frequent is starting to use clickbait tricks to get you to engage with their content and ads, ask yourself if it could be a sign that this provider has or had to shift gears in their content and offerings. If so it’s time to re-evaluate your time.
More positively, if you see new hires, new beats being created, more expansive coverage and higher quality, more relevant ads, ask yourself if the site is going in a direction you like. The key is to be mindful of all of the impact of financial upswings and downswings. Then see if it might be time to change it up.
Manage Your News Like a Boss But then Put it on Autopilot
Many people who aren’t news junkies don’t use news aggregation apps. However, anecdotally, I find once they are exposed to them and take the time to set them up, they deliver compound returns over time. It also gives people a feeling of control while exposing them to more content they care about from a diversity or sources.
Two apps that I love are Flipboard and Nuzzel. Take the time to set them up, learn their new features and put them to use. Check these apps out, set up your preferences and viola! News tailored to your interests.
Hopefully you found these tips helpful with media consumption but don’t forget the easiest and most effective – Simply turn it off and go for a walk. 🙂
Peace and Love, Jim