By Jude Obuseh
(AGENDAWATCHDOG) – The onset of the #COVID-19 pandemic has exploded a global appetite for information, especially news reports about the dimensions of the disease and efforts by governments and health authorities to stem its continued spread.
Consequent to the lockdowns and restrictions imposed by governments on free movement, as part of wider efforts to stem the tide of #COVID-19 infections across the world, thousands have been forced to work from self-isolation, some due to their recent travel history, associated symptoms or immune system susceptibility.
However, to work from isolation while keeping tabs on events around the world on news 24/7 devices, might limit your productivity and give rise to stress and apprehension.
So, the need arises to strike an appropriate balance between news consumption and other activities in the digital era.
Even before the current crises, some form of news avoidance had risen among news consumers, driven by a sense of news fatigue. Some self-help experts have taken the extreme path by asking us to stop reading the news completely.
However, it would be a grand mistake to abstain completely from all news during the #COVID-19 pandemic and its unpredictable economic and social consequences.
The need to navigate a middle path has informed the writing of this post, which suggests 5 ways you can stay in the know at home, while getting your work done.
1. Deviate From Tradition
Don’t waste precious time searching aimlessly through the internet for news from traditional sources. Unless necessary, avoid the monotonous regular news mediums.
Try to develop a routine of checking in on the main headlines intermittently during the day so you can stay informed about the most important events without being sucked into the vortex of click bait and news of incremental changes in the number of coronavirus cases or the ups and downs of the stock markets.
2. Go Simple
Look for short-form journalism and light commentary on the topics that most interest you. Targeted enlightening articles, such as those found in Agenda Watchdog’s Opinion section –https://agendawatchdog.com/opinion/- include the most important facts you need to know, and are likely to have a constructive angle presenting incisive analysis and a pathway to a solution or best practice.
Use social media wisely – for communicating with family and friends when you might be physically isolated and by following authoritative sources if something in the news is affecting your life directly, such as emergency services during the #COVID-19 pandemic. But avoid the suggested and sponsored news feeds with dubious and unfiltered information (often shared as spam by internet rats).
Keep your social media commentary civil, empathetic and supportive – mindful of everyone’s mental health during a crisis.
4. Define Your Focus
Ask the key question: “What is the best source of the information I absolutely need to know?” Go to primary sources where possible. Subscribe to official and authoritative information feeds – for example, daily news summaries from online publications such as Agenda Watchdog’s Topline News -https://agendawatchdog.com/topline-news/- or World News –https://agendawatchdog.com/world/– which are daily capsules of major local and international news stories.
5. Go For Constructive News Stories
Endeavour to balance the timing and selection of your news consumption with the wellbeing of the children in your household. More constructive news stories have fewer negative mental health impacts on children, particularly when combined with the opportunity to discuss the contents with their peers.
Finally, you might also use these crises to build your own media literacy – by pausing to reflect carefully upon what news you really need in your family’s life. This might vary markedly according to your work, interests and passions.
For many of us it will mean a much more critical diet of what we call “traditional hard news” – allowing us the time to read and view material that better contributes to the quality of our own lives and to our varied roles as informed citizens.