July 3rd, 2010
10:33 AM ET

Letter to the President #530: “HELP! I HAVE FALLEN INTO THE NEWS AND I CAN’T GET UP!”

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

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President Obama’s staff prides itself on being well-wired into all the key information technologies and he has announced a new spending plan to expand broadband access. Perhaps that will mean even more people reading my daily letters to the White House!

Dear Mr. President,

My family had a new, all encompassing HD TV-high speed computer-telephone-toaster- oven-in-every-room system installed this week, and I must say we are very happy with it from a technological standpoint. As best I can figure, the kids can now connect to Facebook simply by staring at the nearest wall and wishing, my wife can see her appointment calendar in her dreams like that Medium woman, and I can follow the news by listening to indistinct murmuring from any electrical outlet in the house. We have so many radio waves moving through the joint we can bake potatoes just by placing them on the counter and waiting six minutes.

Or something like that. All I really know is that we have never before been so wired, so connected to the rest of the planet, and I am pretty sure I’ll never have to talk to an actual person again as long as I live. Except the systems repair guy when he comes, and I assume that will be soon since, of course, I pressed the wrong button on the wrong box upstairs and now the TV in the guest room won’t work.

But here’s the strange part: I feel like the more I take in information, the less I know. It seems like I’m spending so much time just checking on my various sources of information, that I have virtually no time to actually think about any of it.

Right now, no kidding, I receive news around the clock via: A TV in my office that is on all the time; a steady stream of, oh say, 200 or 300 emails a day on my CNN BlackBerry; three newspaper feeds into my new iPad; a news alert system that runs on my office computer; 6…7…8..who knows how many news stations on cable at home; 2 or 3 magazine subscriptions; and usually a call every day or so from my wife or kids who say, “Hey, did you hear…” Oh, and I have some outrageous number of satellite radio channels in the car, too.

For a news person, these are legitimate tools of the trade. And, with our latest upgrades, I am convinced that I am not going to miss anything, because frankly, how could I? There are small governments with fewer news feeds coming their way. But I am equally convinced that now I have to become more discerning in what I rely on for news… because as I am now all too painfully aware, there is a lot of it out there. And a person who merely lets the ocean of “stuff”purporting to be news wash over him or her 24 hours a day, I’m not sure is any better off than the person who picks up one newspaper and reads it well with a critical eye.

Knowing that you are a pretty connected guy yourself, I thought you might be interested in my thoughts on the matter. That is, if you have time to read them. Ha!


Follow Tom on Twitter @tomforemancnn.

Find more of the Foreman Letters here.