Recently I took a momentous step: I cancelled my newspaper subscription. I've subscribed to a daily paper since I left my parents' home, and the cancellation was a significant change for several reasons.
I have strong feelings about the importance of the daily newspaper in a democracy and had a desire to support my local paper. What changed my mind was my local paper's increasingly pointed bias. I don't mind an editorial bias on the editorial page. In fact, I expect to find it there. However, I strongly object to biased reporting of the news. When I cancelled the subscription, I wrote the Managing Editor to tell him exactly what I objected to and why. I received a very courteous reply, pointing out how long I had been a subscriber and asking me to rethink my decision. No acknowledgement of my reason for leaving, or indication that they even wanted to be fair and unbiased. While I can't blame them, it made my decision easier.
I now subscribe to 21 different feeds which I keep track of for free via www.bloglines.com. I created a personal news page on which I subscribed to the online versions of newspapers like the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post and the St. Petersburg Times (where one of my brothers is a columnist). I also subscribed to my favorite blogs like Miss Snark and Mark Cuban. Finally, I subscribed to a couple of online magazines like The Salon and Slate.
In the same amount of time it used to take me to read my local newspaper, I can now scan over 20 news sources and get a much broader perspective.
The other reason why cancelling my paper was difficult for me was that I'm a creature of habit. I like my daily schedule. I used to enjoy reading the morning paper on my patio overlooking the backyard while eating breakfast. However, I have to admit that I've grown accustomed to a digital newsfeed very quickly, too.
As part of the same initiative, I no longer watch only one television newscast. While I like the routine of one station, I find I learn more by spreading my listening time among a variety of news stations. Frankly, I feel safer for it. If we only listen to or read those sources that agree with our point of view, we run the danger of not being open to other points of view. When our point of view becomes too narrow, prejudice finds breeding grounds. I'd like to keep my mind as free of weeds as I do my garden.