I recently finished reading Neil Postman's Amusing Ourselves to Death, based upon a recommendation by my friend T. David Gordon. Though the examples are dated, the thesis stands the test of time well. The book can be purchased new from Cumberland Books.
Among the observations are that mass television media trivializes the significant, and by its nature as a medium, cannot do otherwise. I love the Internet as a way allow more ideas to be heard. However, most Internet news is just as trivial, but just in greater quantity.
Perhaps more important, I also believe that 24 hour assaults of online news are probably as harmful as some of the more widely acknowledged harmful things to be found on the seedier side of the web. The web provides an endless supply of disturbing news and adds ways to share one's sense of terror or disgust through email and forums. The daily commute reinforces this with talk radio, which is fed in part by the web. TV news is now 24/7, and contains so much data that scroll bars are necessary to augment the talking head.
I have been a member of a couple of political activist type forums. On these, I notice a cycle of fear and outrage, neither of which are healthy and neither of which will necessarily solve anything. (Ultimately, our political problems our cultural and spiritual, which is the subject for another post)
To offer some solace, I highly commend this essay by the Reverend Franklin Sanders. It is so good, I keep a printed copy in my office as an antidote to what might show up in my email box.