I don't know who Rolf Dobelli is, but I completely disagree with his recent column in The Guardian, a British newspaper. Dobelli believes "news is bad for you" and argues that the day's headlines rot your brain.
He says the news:
• is irrelevant
• doesn't offer explanation
• is toxic to your body
• increases cognitive errors
• inhibits thinking
• works like a drug
• wastes time
• makes us passive
• kills creativity
Wow. What shocking disdain for our free and open press. My blog, News To Live By, is 100 percent devoted to the idea that reading the news is one of the smartest ways to spend our time. To rebut Dobelli's dubious claims -- and counter the more than 25,000 Facebook shares it received -- here are nine reasons why news is good for you.
1. News makes us informed citizens
Ever wonder why the media create unbiased voter guides for upcoming elections? So we understand the issues and candidates before we step into the polling booth. Journalism is an irreplaceable part of our democracy, and we would be lost without it.
2. News keeps us safe in emergencies
When the snow hits or the levees break, what's your first move? Turn on the news. Or check the news online. Or listen to the news on the radio or follow news outlets on Twitter. Could you get all the storm updates from random people tweeting and Instagramming Probably. Would you always trust the source? Hardly. That's why news matters.
3. News broadens our worldview
Dobelli says news "inhibits thinking." Nonsense. Visit the opinion section of any newspaper and you'll find a range of opinions on the day's hot-button issues. Want brilliant insight? Read George Will, Maureen Dowd and sports columnist Rick Reilly... because, well, Reilly is just the best.
4. News teaches critical thinking
Again, Dobelli is debunked. He says news "increases cognitive errors," but The New York Times, the most heralded newspaper in America, has an entire project devoted to using the news to teach children. The Learning Network turns top stories into educational tools. There are grammar lessons, quizzes and in-class activities all designed to make the day's headlines part of the learning process.
5. News improves our writing
The newspaper is a terrific place to look to sharpen your writing. Journalists are taught to write succinctly, use vivid detail and always check their sources. Those rules apply to the rest of us, too. There are also lessons in the headlines themselves. Don't believe me? Read this.
6. News is full of leadership lessons
If we peer just below the surface, the news is brimming with ways we can improve on the job and in life. For instance, the leadership qualities that propelled Dave Matthews Band to No. 1 on the charts. How the CEO of REI made it to President Obama's cabinet. And why Neil Armstrong should be remembered for more than walking on the moon.
7. News is a trove of career advice
I believe lessons are easier to absorb if paired with practical, real-world examples. That's why, at News to Live By, the Yahoo! work-from-home uproar becomes an avenue to discuss the best strategies for working remotely. Justin Timberlake's dazzling Grammy performance is a terrific set-up for how to dress for a job interview. Even a war of words between two political heavyweights lends itself to a discussion on proper email etiquette.
8. News gives us a front-row seat to history
The news media gave use these iconic images, which all won the Pulitzer Prize. Again, any Joe Shmo with a Smartphone can capture unforgettable moments, but we turn to CNN when Egypt erupts in protests because no single person can bring us the world's events (with wide-ranging coverage) as they happen. Only the media can.
9. News is our collective watercooler
Media websites are the place to argue, banter and break down the day's top stories. If you have a strong opinion on the news and want to air it out, where else do you go?
Come to think of it, Rolf Dobelli, who claims to have avoided news entirely for the past four years, used the media to make his point.
Seems like the biggest opponent of the news understands the power of the press.
Why do you read the news?
Follow Danny Rubin on Twitter: www.twitter.com/NewsToLiveBy