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News avoidance has been on the rise worldwide, especially with the major events of the past few years like COVID 19 and the war in Ukraine. Essentially, intentional news avoidance occurs when people deliberately turn away and avoid the news. Selective news avoidance on the other hand, is when a person remains engaged, however they choose to limit or completely remove exposure to certain types of news.
For digital publishers, news avoidance is becoming a more common problem that results in decreased reader engagement and revenue. In this blog, we'll explore the reasons for news avoidance along with five strategies to help keep readers coming back to your digital publications.
Reuters identified 6 reasons for news avoidance in their 2022 Digital News Report, which we have categorized into two main categories: trustworthiness & disinterested.
2021 brought positive signs for the news industry, yet a year later, a less optimistic picture has emerged. News consumption has declined, trust has fallen, and news fatigue has set in. The rise of false and misleading news has not helped with increasing a users trust of the news. Trust in the news has fallen in nearly half the countries they surveyed, with Finland having the highest trust (69%) and the US the lowest (26%). On average, only 42% of the sample reported trusting the news most of the time.
Looking specifically at different generations, Pew Research Center identified that for 18- to 29-year-olds in the United States, half say they have some or a lot of trust in the information they get from social media sites, but local news sources are trusted most of all with 62%. Across generations local news sources are the most trusted, but the level of trust has decreased from 85% to 71% since 2019.
Reuters found that across the global market the interest in news has declined due to a few reasons:
Repetitive: Many respondents feel as though the news is rather repetitive, especially around certain topics like politics, COVID and war in Ukraine (43%). With the continuous access that we have to the news via different channels, it can often feel like we receive the same story multiple times in a row.
Decrease in mental health and overall mood: This repetitiveness also contributes to people feeling worn out by the news in general. This contributes to news fatigue, which is psychological exhaustion due to information overload from any form of media, though it is generally from news media and social media.
Arguments: Depending on the news source, the story being discussed can be biased to insight conversations or spread a specific message. This type of discourse can cause confrontations that people would rather avoid having should they not agree with the other. To avoid these types of confrontations, the news is avoided to remain neutral on a potentially charged topic.
Irrelevance: A significant portion of younger and less educated people avoid the news because it can be hard to follow or understand, which can lead to the feeling as though the news is irrelevant to them. This could also explain the rise in turning to social media, where content is in short digestible clips, compared to a written article.
News Avoidance is a topic to be further researched, but we have identified 5 key actions that digital publishers can implement to help combat what is already known.
Second, personalization can also help with combating fake news and filter bubbles. With machine learning technology and algorithms, these problems can be detected and attacked using specific algorithms that enhance the diversity of articles and show more of a catalog of articles. You can read more about personalization and filter bubbles here.
News avoidance has become a worldwide phenomenon, with people from all over opting to step away from news sources. While it is understandable that news avoidance can be helpful in reducing stress and anxiety, it is important to understand that it can lead to missing out on key global and local developments. As consumers, we must find a balance between staying informed and being overwhelmed. Within the news industry, it is important to understand how the content created impacts the consumer and understand what technology exists to help in reducing the chance of news avoidance. Ultimately, putting the focus on the reader will win out at the end of the day.
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