This year might have proven there is such a thing as too much news
As if this year’s events weren’t dramatic enough, I’m not sure I’m completely over the news that Charlie Brooker’s ‘2017 Wipe’ won’t be on TV this Christmas because he’s too busy on other things.
A modern fixture of the festive schedules, the satirist’s annual round-up of the year’s events on BBC2 could always be relied upon to provide a healthy bit of perspective on the year past, from global politics to online crazes and ad campaigns. Fellow satirical comedian Armando Iannucci has described 2017 (at least in part jokingly) as, “the most depressing time apart from the two world wars”.
With a tweeting POTUS, fake news, social media, live streaming and an increasingly polarized mainstream media: I have little doubt that we are suffering from information overload. Thankfully, there are signs that established media outlets are already starting the fight back against fake news and to cut through the information saturation.
CNN released a ‘Facts First’ advert in October with an image of an apple, saying that some people may try and tell you it’s a banana. The BBC recently announced it is running courses in secondary schools to help young people spot fake news - though some may argue that the young have always been more adept at spotting what’s real than their supposedly older and wiser counterparts.
A renewed thirst amongst readers and viewers for news that they can trust is also apparent. The New York Times now counts nearly 2.5 million digital subscribers, a 46% increase on a year ago, despite Trump’s proclamations to the contrary; FT subscribers are up worldwide. Outlets such as The Guardian in the UK and The Atlantic in the US have launched supporter schemes, where new and existing readers can pledge a donation in return for ‘privileges’ such as writer Q&As and other special events.
With Brexit deal negotiations, a likely Trump visit to the UK and a controversial World Cup in Russia, 2018 certainly isn’t likely to be any quieter news-wise than the one just gone.
But the good news is that the Christmas period offers us the opportunity for some genuine respite. Instead of a constant diet of mobile phones, PCs and televisions, we can opt to get outside for that festive walk or get down to the local pub or coffee shop, or simply curl up in the warmth with a good book (a genuine work of fiction perhaps). Best of all, we can reconnect with the people closest to us face-to-face, and shut the wider world out - at least until Boxing Day.