Monday, October 12, 2009

Infobesity: the result of poor information nutrition

I've talked and written for some time about the need for serious journalism to stop marketing itself as "Eat your broccoli" and start describing the value of a balanced information diet.

I had a discussion like this in Tacoma once, when I mentioned that it’s hard to make a living urging people to eat their broccoli when the guy in the next booth is selling curly fries. Editor Karen Peterson raised her hand to remind me, "Howard, they giving away the curly fries over there."
And so they are. But if all you eat is curly fries, you die young and fat, clutching your heart. We need to be sure we are selling not just broccoli but balance, nutrition, longer life. Many people want that. We can sustain our mass audiences by finding ways to serve that impulse, with time for dessert along the way.

Now I've come across somebody else making the same point, describing what some are calling "infobesity," the condition that results from a diet of unrestricted info calories. Tim Young of Socialcast makes my old "information nutrition" point and many more quite elegantly in a post you can read here.

In the meantime, here's a taste:

Consuming foods high in fat, sugar, and other unhealthy elements can lead to a variety of health problems, causing a deterioration of one’s quality of life. Similarly, if we have a poor information diet (i.e. consistently watching reality TV and internet meme videos), our mind’s performance, clarity, and ability to achieve goals can be severely negatively impacted.


  1. This is the exact reason I stopped watching the evening news. A large part of the diet consisted of "OMG, OMG, OMG!" Media doesn't have to be melodramatic or stressful to be good. Perhaps a media intake pyramid would be helpful.

  2. Agreed, Howard. And our readers notice it - "Geez, consuming that newspaper every day isn't as fulfilling as it used to be".

    5x5 is right, I think. A media intake pyramid.