This may just be another negative news story. And if so, there is evidence that many of you will refuse to despair.
The Reuters Institute She revealed last month that 42% of Americans actively avoid news at least some of the time because it discourages them or they don’t believe it. Fifteen percent said they had completely disconnected from news coverage. In other countries, such as the UK and Brazil, the numbers they selectively avoid have been even higher.
In the United States, those who identify themselves on the right are more likely to avoid news because they believe it is untrustworthy or biased, but those on the left are more likely to feel confused, helpless, or anxious that the news may create arguments.”
The Reuters The institute said that along with the growing number of people avoiding the news, there is a drop in confidence in reports in the US to the lowest point so far recorded at just 26% of the population.
It all goes for Amanda Ripley, the former Time magazine journalist and author of High Conflict: Why We Get Trapped – and How We Get Out. recognized in a Washington Post She says she was embarrassed as a reporter to admit that she had “actively avoided the news for years”. Ripley said it left her “so exhausted that I can’t write.”
So she rationalized her consumption, cutting out TV news altogether and waiting until later in the day to read the newspapers. But she continued to access her on her phone and social media.
“If you look at the Reuters data and extrapolate it, we can estimate that approximately 100 million American adults are not getting their news needs,” Ripley said.
The result, the Reuters Institute said, is the Americans’ retreat. “Before the invasion of Ukraine, consumption of traditional media, television and print declined further with online social consumption not filling the gap,” she said.
However, long-established news organizations are skeptical because their audience numbers are constantly growing. Professor Emily Bell, founding director of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia School of Journalism, said that although there are short-term peaks and troughs in dealing with news about major events, the long-term trend is on the rise.
Bell said that in recent years, the total number of stories Americans read has grown to be much larger than she could have imagined. “So I start from this situation, is this really happening? People say, ‘I’m sick of the news, I actually take steps to avoid it or not pay attention to it.’ While one has to take them seriously, statistically I would like to see More evidence that it is indeed true.”
The Guardian audience numbers reflect these skepticism. Readership in the United States rose sharply during the early months of the Covid pandemic, dipped slightly and then rose to a new high during the 2020 presidential election. It peaked again after the Russian invasion of Ukraine in March. But the long-term trend of the US Guardian newspaper is on the rise, and even when readership is declining, it remains much higher than it was before the pandemic.
Bell also noted that although young people may stay away from traditional news sources, this does not necessarily mean that they are staying away from news.
“The podcast has an incredibly strong young audience. This is a long storytelling format, which really appeals to those under 25 and I don’t think anyone could have expected it. A couple of years ago, I was teaching a group of undergraduates and they were pretty much uninterested in the productions. The staple of the New York Times, but if you mention Michael Barbara and the Daily Podcast (the New York Times daily podcast) they get overly excited, she said.
Yet Americans, exhausted by it all, may be increasingly falling behind among the big stories. It’s also possible for people to say they’re staying away from some news because there’s a lot of news coming on them, but at the same time they’re still consuming more than ever.
Ripley said she’s been “inundated” with messages from Americans, both in and out of the news business, who feel as you do about what appears to be a relentless barrage of negativity. “A lot of them said heartbreaking things. One of them said to me, ‘I felt like my brain was broken.’”
“Especially regarding the epidemic, there has been a lot of very disturbing and nerve-wracking news. You cannot avoid it, it is creeping into every fissure of your life. It is invasive in a way that it was not even 10 years ago.”
Bell, who is a member of the Guardian Media Group’s trade council, agreed with that view. “The malaise, especially with upsetting and bad news, is very real,” she said. “People feel their mental stability, and that there are a certain number of things you can’t do much about on a daily basis where pulling out of the news can be very attractive.”
Part of the problem, Bell said, is how the news reaches us now. Three decades ago, Americans would have read about the Rwandan genocide in the daily newspaper that fell on their doorstep, or heard about it on radio and television, then turned the page or listened to the next story. Perhaps they read about it again the next day.
“The way we’ve designed our new communications infrastructure is to be absolutely relentless,” she said. “If I read one story about someone getting sick or dying, probably because they should have had the Covid vaccine, I would get 50 stories about people dying from every news outlet in the world. So the overwhelming impression you can get is that something is bad It was happening with vaccines even though it wasn’t. And while each story was fairly accurate, it was only a fraction of what was happening in the real world.”
Molly Bingham, founder of Orb Media reporting on global efforts to create a more sustainable future, sees an additional problem of losing faith in how news is covered.
As the Reuters Institute noted, there are Americans on the right who don’t trust a lot of the media because it doesn’t reflect their political beliefs, so they shy away from or stick to sources that tell them what they want for them. But Bingham, who made a critically acclaimed documentary about the armed resistance in Iraq, sees a broader credibility problem.
“There is a massive oversimplification. If you look at the current conflict in Ukraine, and the way the American media portrayed it in a narrative, we are all very comfortable with ‘good Ukrainians resisting bad Russians.’ But there is also this kind of cognitive dissonance because when the Iraqis were opposing Having foreign forces in their country, they were terrorists, and they were very bad.
“I think the very simple storylines are alienating because they don’t reflect our experience with the world.”
One answer, Ripley said, is solutions-based journalism — and it has some of its own. “I’ve spent a lot of time talking to people who study what humans need to thrive in an information saturated environment. Three ingredients were missing, hope, agency and dignity. These are things I find every time I go out into the field and report horrific tragedies, but I haven’t I always include it in the article,” she said.
All of this raises a nagging old question that has haunted newsrooms for years: Do readers, listeners, and viewers really want positive stories? Bill is skeptical. “We often say, if only journalists would write more good news stories. It’s horrible, but people don’t tend to read the good news,” she said.
“For example, you can look at some of the progress that has been made against the climate goals. Now, it’s not exactly good news but there is still progress that has been made. If you write a fairly thoughtful article about that, it tends to get low traffic. To an extent. If you had an article saying Britain was going to 40°C (104°F) next week, everyone would read that article.”
Ripley admits the problem. “I think there’s some truth in that, but I don’t think it’s the whole story. Increasingly, stories that are hopeful, surprising, intriguing, and these stories go viral. Stories that offer hope, agency and dignity seem like breaking news right now, Because we are drowning in the opposite.”
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