Of late a new word that is both common and unsettling in the media is “selective news avoidance.”
This term has been derived from the most recent issue of the Reuters Institute’s annual Digital News Report.
According to a study published in the issue, people tend to avoid certain types of news even though they maintain a steady engagement with news in general. According to the researchers, people “remain engaged and use the news regularly, we find that many also increasingly choose to ration or limit their exposure to it — or at least to certain types of news.”
News fatigue has received a lot of attention from media commentators in the US, frequently in relation to the draining Trump-related media stories, but Nielsen has observed it elsewhere as well. In several countries like Brazil, the UK, and Australia the institute identified a rising incidence of “news avoidance” in its polls of online news consumers in 46 markets.
According to Nielsen, people may be “selectively avoiding news often or sometimes”. Now, that could mean one of two possibilities – either the topic is a complete turn-off or the news is simply too overwhelming for the audience.
Consider this: In contrast to, say, a half-hour broadcast that usually concludes with sports or a feel-good story, an unending stream of headlines on any screen is more like a loud ringing.
In addition, there are an infinite number of news options on the internet. It seems to make sense that more people are reporting altering their habits on their own.
In the words of Nielsen, “When we asked them why, part of this is about politics”, he also adds that some people simply avoid certain kinds of news in order to protect their mental health. He also mentioned that some people would simply think that the media is “biased and/or untrustworthy”.
According to scientific writer Susan D’Agostino, the solution may lie in news “moderation” rather than avoidance.
Vox publisher Melissa Bell discussed the “powerlessness” that readers may experience when faced with grim tale after grim story during a panel event in New York that was sponsored by Reuters.
She advised newsrooms to see journalism production “as a service to audiences” as opposed to merely an act of publication.
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