One of the problems with the state of the news today is that it often plays into our worst tendencies. This includes both the content of the news, as well as the medium through which we consume it.
First, the internet has changed the content of the news because it has shrunk the world. We are now able to travel, stay connected, and read the news from any part of the world, immediately. This has created a feeling that we must be engaged and care about national and international issues as much if not more than what happens more locally.
Hence, the declining state of local newspapers and the feeling that the only thing people talk or care about is Washington and what happens at the federal level. I think this has exacerbated the echo chambers and partisanship we find everywhere today, as news events that happen farther away from home appear less complicated, less nuanced, and therefore we lose a critical human element (empathy, compassion, and forgiveness, I think) when we interpret and form judgements about what happened.
Second, the internet has altered how we consume the news. Instead of reading the newspaper or listening to the radio, today we often consume the news instantly and through short videos — a particularly emotional medium (i.e. social media). This is especially dangerous when sensational news events occur, for it rarely helps us do what would be most helpful in such situations — suspending judgement until we know more information. Time is helpful for perspective and understanding.
So, what are we to do? To the first point, I think part of the answer is found in the rule to “set your house in perfect order before you criticize the world,” as formulated by Jordan B. Peterson and before him, Jesus (Matthew 7:5). Basically, an acknowledgment that although Washington and the news media may be broken, so are our own lives. To the second point, I think suspending judgment is key, as time is almost always helpful for perspective and understanding. It’s like the rule some people have about not responding to an angry or aggressive email for at least 12 hours. That time and space make us more reasonable, less emotional and reactionary.