A.D. Sertillanges’ advice to anyone who wishes to accomplish intellectual work includes the following admonition:
As to newspapers, defend yourself against them with the energy that the continuity and the indiscretion of their assault make indispensable. You must know what the papers contain, but they contain so little; and it would be easy to learn it all without settling down to interminable lazy sittings! . . .
A serious worker should be content . . . with the weekly or bi-monthly chronicle in a review; and for the rest, with keeping his ears open, and turning to the daily papers only when a remarkable article or a grave event is brought to his notice.
Sertillanges’ wonderful book, The Intellectual Life, was first published in 1920. Since then, the popular press has grown ever more vulgar and stupid, radio has matured to become an almost inescapable scourge, and television has more than equaled radio in obnoxiousness and nearly matched it in ubiquity. And now there is the internet and the personal computer, which stand in relationship to one another somewhat as the international drug cartels do to the hypodermic needle and syringe. Interminable lazy sittings, indeed! Abandoned to such diversions, the mind soon becomes as gluteus as the maximus at the opposite end.
You may learn from the newspapers that such-and-such...