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All the news that's not too grim

As Nick Kristof notes in today's New York Times, Web-based news consumption makes it easier than ever to avoid data and ideas we don't agree with, for better or (more likely) worse:

When we go online, each of us is our own editor, our own gatekeeper. We select the kind of news and opinions that we care most about.

Nicholas Negroponte of M.I.T. has called this emerging news product The Daily Me. And if that’s the trend, God save us from ourselves...

The decline of traditional news media will accelerate the rise of The Daily Me, and we’ll be irritated less by what we read and find our wisdom confirmed more often. The danger is that this self-selected “news” acts as a narcotic, lulling us into a self-confident stupor through which we will perceive in blacks and whites a world that typically unfolds in grays.

It seems to me, though, that "The Daily Me" poses another big problem--namely, that as we gravitate toward content we already find palatable, we'll also take a pass on material that's unpleasant or troubling.

By way of example, consider Kristof's own oeuvre. Here are some of the subjects he's recently covered: sex slavery and human trafficking; pathogen-infested pork; genocide in Darfur; the impending rise of drug-resistant tuberculosis; Pakistani women whose faces have been disfigured by acid-wielding attackers. 

I'm a big fan of Kristof's--but I'm also far more likely to read his treatments of these grim topics if I'm actually holding a print version of the Times in my hands than if I'm poking around online. And my hunch is I'm not the only only one.

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