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A Recovering News Junkie

Until recently I have been a news junkie my whole life. As a child growing up during World War II, and my parents being European-born with families in Europe and the land of Israel. during that dark period our home was constantly tuned to the radio for the latest news bulletins. One of my earliest memories is hearing the shrieks and rants of Hitler over the radio. As I grew up, I became addicted to hearing the news broadcasts on a daily and sometimes hourly basis. Of course, in those years, 24-hour news broadcasts did not exist, so I only heard the news for five minutes at a time for eight or ten times a day. This sufficiently satisfied my addiction. I always felt that I was listening to actual news events, uncolored by political or social bias. This was of course a very naïve belief on my part, but like many addicts, I did not realize how I was being manipulated and influenced by the powers that be.

This attitude of mine continued even when I was fortunate enough to move to Israel and to be able to listen to the Israeli news broadcasts, though I must admit that I was having some second thoughts about the wisdom of pursuing my addiction to listen to the news constantly and so many times a day. This slow change of mind was engendered by the arrival in the United States of the 24-hour news cycle radio station.
I soon began to realize that there was simply not enough news to fill 24 hours of continuous broadcasting on a daily basis, and that not all of the news that was being presented was actually factual news. This opened my mind to the fact that the entire presentation of the news had to be more opinion than fact and really reflected a bias on the part of the news organization. I also realized that most of the news is really propaganda. Undoubtedly there were news stories that were being emphasized while others, perhaps just as important, were being omitted. This discovery created within me a growing skepticism about the news that was being presented. I recalled that I had long ago learned that newspaper reports of events that I had witnessed or attended were far different than what I had observed. I could not quite verbalize it but my suspicions as to the accuracy of broadcast news began to grow firmer. At that point in my life I became completely aware that I had been a news junkie, an addict of my own habits and upbringing.
The beginning of recovery from any addiction is the realization that one is, in fact, an addict. To my chagrin I realize that I was such a news addict and I was determined to recover.
Without being political and entering into any of the vicious political competition that exists here in Israel and in the United States, I nevertheless express my gratitude to President Trump for coining and popularizing the term ‘fake news.’
All news reporting is biased since all human beings are biased.   The discerning person will attempt to recognize the bias and judge the accuracy and truth of what is being reported as factual news. Now in my old age, I have stopped listening to news broadcasts so often. I listen for the weather in the morning, which oftentimes is also inaccurate , and in the evening to hear if anything really happened in the world that is of any consequence to me. There are days now that I do not even turn on the radio, which is a feat that I never dreamt I could achieve. I do listen to the radio here in Israel a number of times a week in order to improve my Hebrew skills, but I carefully avoid listening to the news broadcasts too often. 
The Talmud describes this world as being one of falseness and lies. I am certain that the Talmud had news broadcasts in mind when they uttered that stark assessment of human behavior. But one of the benefits of my recovery from news addiction is that my blood pressure has declined ten points. So, I recommend this attitude to all of you as well.
Shabbat shalom
Berel Wein

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