Almost half of people now avoid the news…

The Reuters Institute has published its 2022 Digital News Report and it makes grim reading for news organisations. The Press Gazette has a good overview of the findings:

Almost half (46%) of British people actively avoid reading the news as a result of fatigue at excessive Covid and political coverage and a drop in trust in journalism, a new report has found.

While the BBC remained the most trusted and biggest news brand in the UK, the public service broadcaster had one of the most dramatic drops in trust in Europe in recent years.

In 2018, 75% of respondents reported trusting the corporation’s coverage, while 11% didn’t. In 2022, that figure had shifted to 55% and 26% respectively.

Worldwide the most common factor listed among those actively avoiding news was that journalists had given too much coverage to politics and Covid, a view shared by 43% of those asked.

That was followed by claims that news was having a negative impact on people’s mood (36%), that people were worn out by the amount of news (29%), that the news industry was untrustworthy and biased (29%), that it causes arguments people wanted to avoid (17%) and people they felt powerless to do anything about the information they were learning (16%).

I have talked before about how I have tried to limit my news consumption, usually with not very good results.  Rolf Dobelli’s book Stop Reading the News is a good start if you are questioning your news consumption.

I am convinced that news and social media are a huge contributing factor in the high poor mental health rates of the modern world – a constant stream of negativity pumped into your head in real-time can’t be good for us.

TV news in particular is absolutely feckin’ terrifying. We don’t watch live TV in our house, just on-demand so I have not regularly watched the TV news in over 15 years. When I am in my parent’s house and the TV news comes on it astonishes me how graphic and distressing it now is. People will say we need to be informed and it’s unethical to turn a blind eye to the suffering of others but watching all the misery of the world in real-time must be having a very negative effect on us.

There is a place for local news. With the local newspaper industry being decimated by the internet I do think there is a case for government funding local news reporters. There was a BBC plan back in 2015 to have hyperlocal reporters but I think the industry went bananas at the thought of having to compete with the BBC. I think this needs looked at again as more local papers are going under and within 10 years most of them will be gone. I think either the BBC needs to do it or you set up a non-profit news organisation to fund local reporting.

At times I wonder is Slugger contributing to the problem. We do tend to focus on the negative stuff and I do notice the comments generally take a glass-half-empty view. We can easily get into a spiral of cynicism in Northern Ireland where you believe everything is sh*te and getting worse. Mind you there is that famous Jiddu Krishnamurti quote “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” Maybe the only sensible reaction to our system is extreme cynicism and scepticism.

It may be an unconventional marketing strategy but sometimes I think you would be better stepping away from the browser and going for a walk. We could embrace neo-sabbatism and turn the site off on Sundays.

In an ideal world, I would like to only run constructive posts on Slugger where people give actual suggestions on how to improve things rather than just moaning. Is that feasible? Or maybe we all need a good moan every now and again. Is that the role of Slugger? We let you vent so you get it out of your system. We are the void that hears your screams, maybe that could be our new tagline…

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