The two authors of this report, Rasmus Kleis and Benjamin Toff, decided to interview 43 people who self reported as news avoiders in the UK. With all of that having been said and now out of the way, it is important to note that around 7% of British citizens said that they barely consume news according to this study, generally under a month or not at all.
The report placed particular emphasis on lower income groups because of the fact that this is the sort of thing that could potentially end up shedding light on a previously under reported segment of society.
Regular news updates are meant to make people more socially conscious, but in spite of the fact that this is the case they appear to be having the opposite effect. News consumers are beset by anxiety, and this can make them feel more hopeless than might have been the case otherwise. A common complaint amongst survey respondents was the mass produced news outlets mostly focus on matters that are not relevant to their lives. This makes them less likely to pay attention to news, therefore rendering them misinformed.
Political engagement is on the decline, and the news cycle might be the culprit at fault here. An overemphasis on crime and terrorism might get news organizations the clicks they need by taking advantage of the attention economy, but its effects are decidedly negative in the long run.
In order to fix this problem, news organizations need to focus more on spreading information that can increase civic participation and tell consumers about what they can do to make the world better. Focusing entirely on doom and gloom is not a sustainable business model, and it is having a net negative impact on news consumption.
This information is particularly concerning given the rise of misinformation and fake news. People mostly skim headlines, and that can lead to them believing whatever is most sensationalized. It’s clear that a lot of work needs to be done to fix the news industry, but it is unlikely that those efforts would be made as long as the attention economy rules supreme.
It can be said that social media has contributed greatly to this trend. Social media algorithms boost posts that provoke outrage and negative sentiments to obtain increased engagement. Reducing their power over the world of media can help news organizations to shift their focus.
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