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I am a news junkie who was raised to believe that being informed about current events was part of being a good citizen. I am occasionally overwhelmed by the sheer volume of ‘news’ available. Thank goodness that I am not inclined to keep track of pop culture and celebrity news. I think tracking Charlie Sheen would do me in.

I have found myself looking for news out of Japan that speaks to the volume of destruction and homeless people. In spite of their powerful nation status, they need our help. I understand that the nuclear reactors make good video and good disaster type news. I also understand that nuclear fallout plays into a set of fears that were nurtured in many of us with the atom bomb scare and duck and cover drills. Why else would there be a run on potassium iodine on the west coast of the US in spite of fairly consistent medical warnings against taking it prophylactically. Why did people stock up on Cipro during the anthrax mailings? There is something almost immoral about a news formula that scares the crap out of us and then brings on a medical expert to tell us not to be scared that way.
Finding news that scares and overwhelms is a piece of cake. Finding news that informs us and acknowledges the complexities we as a civilization face is not easy. I suppose it is good to consume the news with a critical eye, but it is also tiring. I want to be informed. I’m not asking for the phony on the one hand, on the other hand kind of news. I do want good information and a way to put it into context. Ranking Japan’s nuclear reactor problems as somewhere between Three Mile Island and Chernobyl is not a helpful context for me.

I wish I felt as good about the news as people used to feel about Walter Cronkite. I suppose that’s just wishing and not realistic. The struggle to be informed and the personal need not to be overwhelmed is real though. Some days I handle it better than other days.

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