Public Health

Our media habits

July 10, 2013

Television beats the rest—really?!


Gallup’s daily feeds usually provide interesting tidbits about the U.S. and the world. Yesterday’s report is sobering. Television is the main place Americans say they turn to for news about current events (55%), leading the Internet, at 21%. Nine percent say newspapers or other print publications are their main news source, followed by radio, at 6%. Fox is the dominant channel. Given what we know about the brevity of television stories, it would be difficult to get a very deep picture of Egypt or Syria or most other complex stories from TV alone. No wonder there is so much confusion about the Affordable Care Act, abortion, HPV vaccines and so many other health-related topics.

I’m out of step. I can’t start my day without scanning the Chapel Hill Herald, Wall Street Journal and New York Times. I read sections of the N&O online. Honestly, a lot of days, it’s more scan than read — except when I read on the elliptical. When traveling, I read everything online. I got over the stage when hotels stopped leaving the NYT outside guests’ rooms, but I was crushed when that happened. Reading papers on an iPad is just fine. For some stories, it’s amazingly better.

I used to turn on the television late at night while I read journals. About four months ago, I just decided it was enough and decided to go on a TV diet. I haven’t turned it on since and don’t miss it at all. For the record, though, I’m not knocking anyone who watches TV. And, I reserve the right to amend my TV diet when the next season of Downton Abbey airs.

Happy Monday. Barbara

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The views expressed in this blog are Barbara Rimer’s alone and do not represent the views and policies of The University of North Carolina or the Gillings School.