Why more people are turning away from the news, according to a Reuters Institute report

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More people are turning away from the news, describing it as depressing, relentless and boring, according to a multi-country study by the Reuters Institute at the University of Oxford.

Nearly four in ten people (39%) globally said they actively avoid the news sometimes or often, up from 29% in 2017.

Wars in Ukraine and the Middle East may have contributed to people’s desire to tune out the news, the report’s authors said.

A total of 94,943 adults from 47 countries were surveyed by YouGov in January and February for this year’s Digital News Report.

The report comes as billions of people around the world have gone to the polls in national and regional elections.

It found that elections increased interest in news in a few countries, including the US.

However, the overall trend remains decidedly downward, the study found.

Globally, 46% of people said they were very or extremely interested in news – down from 63% in 2017.

In the UK, interest in news has almost halved since 2015.

“The news agenda has obviously been particularly challenging in recent years,” the report’s lead author, Nic Newman, told the BBC.

“You’ve had the pandemic [and] the wars, so it’s a pretty natural reaction for people to tune out the news, whether it’s to protect their mental health or just to move on.”

People who choose to selectively avoid news often do so because they feel “powerless,” Newman said.

“These are people who feel like they have no influence on the massive events happening in the world,” he said.

Some people are feeling increasingly overwhelmed and disoriented by the amount of information out there, while others are feeling political fatigue, Newman said.

Women and young people are more likely to feel exhausted by the amount of information out there, according to the report.

Meanwhile, trust in news remains stable at 40%, but is 4% lower overall than it was at the height of the coronavirus pandemic, the survey found.

In the UK, trust in news has increased slightly this year to 36%, but remains around 15 percentage points lower than before the Brexit referendum in 2016.

The BBC is the most trusted news brand in the UK, followed by Channel 4 and ITV.

Image captionTikTok is increasingly used, particularly by young people.

The report reveals that audiences for traditional news sources such as television and print have declined sharply over the past decade, with young people choosing to get their news from online news or social media.

In the UK, almost three-quarters of people (73%) say they get their news from online news, compared to 50% for television and just 14% for print.

The most important social media platform for news remains Facebook, although it is in long-term decline.

YouTube and WhatsApp remain important sources of information for many, while TikTok is on the rise and has overtaken X (formerly Twitter) for the first time.

Thirteen percent of people use the video-sharing app for news, compared to 10% for X.

The figure for TikTok is even higher for 18-24 year-olds globally, at 23%.

Image caption,According to the report’s authors, some people feel there is “too much politics” in the news.
Related to these changes, video is becoming a more important source of online news, particularly for younger age groups.

According to the report, short news videos are the most engaging.

“Consumers are embracing video because it’s easy to use and offers a wide range of relevant and engaging content,” Newman observed. “But many traditional newsrooms are still rooted in a text-based culture and are struggling to adapt their storytelling.”

The report says that for publishers, podcasting is a bright spot.

But it’s a “minority business overall,” attracting mostly educated audiences.

The report also found widespread public distrust of the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in reporting, particularly for tough news stories like politics or war.

“Audiences are more comfortable using AI for behind-the-scenes tasks like transcription and translation, supporting rather than replacing journalists,” the report added.

This article is originally published on bbc.com

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