10 years of a low news diet

As I was getting ready to graduate from university, I attempted a “no news” information diet for a few months. The motivation for that diet was a lack of interest in fueling the traditional hype-driven news cycle with my clicks.

That turned out to be challenging as I started on my first job. I didn’t, for example, know there was an Arab spring while on a project in the Middle East. That situation was untenable. :-)

The next step was to bring back the news – but, to do so with a diet that focused on simplicity. After multiple experiments with aggregators like “The Skimm” and “The Economist Espresso,” I settled on the free Quartz newsletter as my only source of news in 2015. And, while I’ve occasionally tried out an aggregator or two in the ensuing years, my news diet has hardly ever exceeded the 3-4 daily minutes I spend on the Quartz newsletter*.

The Quartz newsletter is good about linking to various sources – beyond their own reporting. And, thanks to their excellent 2-3 line summaries, I have rarely felt the need to click in and find out more.

As a result of the space this creates, I get to spend reading time on blogs I love or newsletters that aggregate interesting content or share interesting analysis about tech or the future – e.g., Stratechery, Exponential View, Insight, and Noahpinion. And, most importantly, it helps me direct any time I’d like to spend obsessing about the climate crisis or, in the past year, the Coronavirus pandemic by working through sources like “Our World in Data.”

When I picked this low news diet, I was clear about the benefit of simplicity. But, I wasn’t sure what the trade-offs would be. For example, would I feel less informed on topics that matter?

10 years in, I can confidently say that I’ve not experienced any cons that I know of. If anything, I’ve experienced benefits I didn’t know to expect – e.g. avoiding filter bubbles – or realized I underestimated the benefits of simplicity.

This sort of diet isn’t for everyone. It also took me some time to get used to. But, I’ve loved the first 10 years. And, I’m looking forward to the next 10.

*Note: Football365.com and ESPNFC.com for football/soccer news is exempt from this – my guilty pleasure.