By Assunta Ng
Northwest Asian Weekly
You might wonder why I am preaching to the choir about reading news. After all, I have been in the news business for decades.
Danny Rubin’s blog for the Huffington Post wrote of the nine benefits of why news is good for you. Benefits include developing a critical mind, being an informed citizen, and keeping us safe during emergencies.
Don’t view folks like me as dinosaurs. I have no shame in proclaiming that I enjoy grabbing the Seattle Times, New York Times, and USA Today. And it doesn’t matter if you get your news on your cell phone, as long as you keep up with what’s going on in the world and your immediate environment.
News as teaching tools
I used news to raise my kids. And they turned out to be more than fine. No, I am not joking. During my eldest son’s rebellious teenage years, he wouldn’t listen to me no matter what I said or how I said it — politely, harshly, or pleadingly. So I used news as a resource.
“If you don’t believe me, just read (the paper),” I would say as I hand my sons the papers. Any good story with life lessons, I saved for my kids. I made my points through the clear and bold “black and white ink.” The printed words worked like magic. Instantly, there was no more debate or fighting. It was an effective tool to shut him up and he behaved like an obedient dog.
“It’s in the newspaper, I didn’t say it,” I would overrule him not with parental authority, but the power of the press.
The implication is, it’s real. It’s the truth. I didn’t need to waste my energy.
Reading newspapers helped my kids with their language skills.
At the dinner table, news was a big part of our family discussions. Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton has a book that’s titled “It Takes a Village.” It certainly takes a village to raise kids and newspapers are part of the village to open my kids’ minds in different areas — areas I had no knowledge of, or things that would never cross my mind to teach. I was amazed that my kids, at a young age, understood very complex political issues.
In the late 1980s, former Seattle City Councilmember Cheryl Chow and former Seattle School Board member Al Sugiyama were running for office. My elder son, who had learned about them from reading the Northwest Asian Weekly, was so excited when he saw Chow on television for the first time. He rushed to tell me, “Cheryl Chow is on TV!” as if he knew her. Another time, he would imitate the way Sugiyama spoke with a high pitch after they met. He thought he knew them like friends. It is because the Asian Weekly has served as a bridge between Asian American elected officials and the public.
Newspapers are not only for kids, but for adults, too. My 85-year-old aunt never graduated from elementary school. An ardent newspaper reader all her life, her knowledge and street smarts can fool you into thinking that she is highly educated.
“How did you know that?” I often challenged her when she threw shared specific knowledge, including scientific evidence, at others. She quit smoking after being a lifelong smoker at the age of 69 because she read one article that discussed how smoking could cause all kinds of diseases.
“I read it from newspapers,” she would always reply.
News enhances civil engagement
So it’s natural that my children have always been interested in the community, and curious about people they read in newspapers. I never needed to nag them to get involved or vote. And I credit their curious minds to their news-reading habits.
Other research has found that people who read the news are better conversationalists. If you don’t know what to talk about with friends or strangers, current events make for good topics.
If you select news sources with credibility and objectivity, you are also someone who values the truth. You learn how to distinguish fact from fiction, biased and unbiased reporting — that’s how you develop a critical mind. This is not achievable in days. You have to consume news on a daily basis for years to acquire critical-thinking skills. There are no shortcuts.
News slows down aging
Studies have also suggested that seniors who read news have a 17 percent lesser chance of developing Alzheimer’s. When you read news, it often triggers some responses, including memories and strong emotions from the brain. Any mental stimulation can slow down the aging brain. Anytime you learn something new, it helps the brain.
News for inspiration
Newspapers are my daily source of inspiration. I learn to be resilient when I read about someone who bounced back from extreme adversity. When hearing of misfortunes, I remind myself to give back and to support other human beings.
Newspapers are rich sources of creativity. I copy other people’s ideas, modify them, and add my personal touches. When I read about others’ mistakes, I gain new knowledge and tips not only for my business, but solutions for friends and myself.
News for entertainment
Many news stories entertain me. I enjoy reading soft news — finding out things to do and how to connect with remarkable people and events. It’s delightful to read about people I know, what they do, and how they get to where they are. I am thrilled and proud of their achievements.
People complain about bad news. It causes some to feel depressed and many have said, “Enough is enough. I don’t want to read about bad news anymore.”
My advice is don’t believe everything you read on the internet. And choose reputable sources like the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and L.A. Times. I believe news organizations that still have a print presence, are the most reliable.
I don’t read everything. I read about Russia’s attacks in Syria to get the big picture. But I don’t need to know the details and the cruelty involved in how the Russians kill. I don’t need to know about Trump’s foolish and insulting words and actions towards women. I already know about his character. Why waste time on him? And reading about the inhuman torture and suffering of the war victims will affect my sleep.
I grativate toward more positive stories and choose to stay away from the negative.
I can’t live without news, it’s my daily medicine. Here is a summary of the benefits of news:
- News can be used as an educational tool for youth.
- Reading news helps you to develop an open and critical mind.
- Reading news helps you to learn something new every day, and slow down aging.
- Reading news helps you to distinguish truth from falsehoods.
- Reading news can enhance your creativity.
- Reading news gives you leads to connect with remarkable people and events.
- Reading news is a source of inspiration, knowledge, and finding solutions.
- Reading news helps you to improve your storytelling techniques.
- Reading news helps you to improve your language skills
- Reading news helps you to be a great conversationalist.
Assunta can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.