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The Tyranny of "news"

Tim Thornborough | 18 Feb 2013

No news this morning.

My morning schedule has me waking at 6.30 to the sound of Radio 4's Today programme. But because of a strike by BBC journalists - nicely timed to make the most of the half-term holiday - the comforting tones of John Humphries were missing from my morning routine.

And I felt strangely free.

Because, it turns out, much of what is talked about and reported as "news" is not really news at all. There's an army of PR people out there who try to drive the public conversation about issues. That may involve the carefully timed release of research results, or surveys or government white papers. Controversially, it may also involve the carefully timed release of bad economic news to co-incide with "real" news, like a terrorist attack or the results of an election, so that the negative effect is diminished.

So occasionally, there is something that genuinely is news. But most of the time our attention is being focussed on an issue of someone's choosing.

A quick glance at the headlines online convinced me that there was nothing pressing that demanded my attention. And I suddenly discover that my newsless morning was actually quite liberating.

Freed from the relentless cultural noise of "today's story" I find that my mind focusses much more clearly on the important things. My prayers still had a element of pleading for the state of our nation and our leaders, but were much more focussed on my family, my church and the work of the Gospel.

Because that is the danger when we allow ourselves to be convinced that being a "rounded citizen" means we have to be up on the latest talking point, and have an opinion on the question of the day. We can lose focus on the Good News that is the most important news story for today, and every day.

Tim Thornborough

Tim Thornborough is the founder and Publishing Director of The Good Book Company. He is series editor of Explore Bible-reading notes and the author of The Very Best Bible Stories series, and has contributed to many books published by The Good Book Company and others. Tim is married to Kathy, and they have three adult daughters.