Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Why people are avoiding news; and what needs to be done to fix things

The 2022 report on digital news consumption shows interesting trends and raises questions. This annual report by the Reuters Institute at Oxford University tracks public trust in the media in 46 countries, including India. The previous (2021) report showed an increase in that confidence, and was attributed to an “epidemic collision”: much of the news focused on the COVID-19 pandemic; The media relies more on authoritative sources during a crisis; And arguably, the leap shows this connection.

Countering that trend was the politics surrounding the pandemic, and people seem to have overestimated that part, disappointed in the usefulness of the news. That brief honeymoon seems to be over for the news media. This year, confidence levels have dropped again, although exceeding the trends in pre-pandemic years. (The pandemic isn’t really over.) Only 42 percent of respondents said they trust the news. The United States records the lowest trust at 26 percent, while it is highest in Finland, where 69 percent consider it trustworthy.

The US media has lost three percent of its trust over the past year. Independent news portals and YouTube-based channels, including corporate-funded ones, have emerged. But the lack of faith is back.

The pre-eminent alarm for news media in India and elsewhere is that not only is confidence waning, but interest in news has waned around the world: a massive drop from 63 percent last year to 52 percent this year. India’s sample primarily consists of young urban media users, so it outlines future consumption patterns. Over the past two decades, television news media has disseminated content, created a relentless spectacle around our lives, created an atmosphere of concern, and attempted to redefine truth in consumer-driven ways. .

Arguably, the drop in interest would have been accelerated in the absence of this year’s most sustained news event: Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Could this be the beginning of a settling down process after two decades of hype, spectacle and self-aggrandizement of the audio-visual news media?

There is another important observation in digital news consumption, which the report calls “selective avoidance”. Shockingly, 42 per cent of the respondents said they avoid news altogether, with a high 72 per cent saying they avoid news occasionally. The reasons should be obvious – the effects on mood, exhaustion from the overwhelming amount of news, and drivers of interpersonal conflicts. Television and then the Internet successfully replaced newspapers to a great extent. But with the drama on TV and the unreliability of Internet-based information, this avoidance must be seen as a factor of trust. If I don’t trust something, I’m not likely to buy it, much less buy it.

We should also look at this trend as part of a longer-term process: Joseph Clapper observed 60 years ago that people view, understand, and retain media messages only selectively. Recent extensions of that study include observations of selective attention, selective distortion, selective interactions, and the effects of information availability on selectivity, echo chambers and filter bubbles, and so on.

On the other hand, selective avoidance points to a conscious act of de-selection. So why is this happening?

Selective avoidance may explain why most people distrust a news brand. When a reader selects a media story, they automatically select the media platform. Researchers call this co-selection. But if that selection is intentional and repeated (like subscribing to a newsletter), this co-option equates to brand loyalty. But social media and the digital aggregation of news (as on Google News) have confused the process.

In the digital media ecosystem, we no longer need to find news. Instead, the news finds us. As algorithms do this job of finding us, the news-find-us phenomenon has also resulted in an expectation that a broad spectrum of news stories will “find us”. A 2017 study shows that people who believe the news will get them are less likely to use traditional news sources and, over time, less knowledgeable about politics. Meanwhile, digital desks of news channels and newspapers are producing news specifically for social media consumption. This complicates things further as stories are competing to gain better visibility – thus creating more content that blurs the boundaries between content styles. Several Facebook users (23 percent from India) told a Reuters-Oxford survey that they have “too much news” on their feed. So, we may ask, is the distinction between information, opinion, entertainment and promotion effectively blurring on social media? The confluence of news and content means that we cannot define news as before.

The Reuters-Oxford research does not study content, but should prompt us to examine how content fits into the consumption picture. The most fundamental difference between news and content is that while news is autonomous, the content is controlled. Of course, the management of news – at the source, production and dissemination levels – is controlled. That is to say, devoid of all controls, news is inherently autonomous as it is based on the event on which a media event is founded and influential sources rely on the bandwagon of media events.

With regard to news makers, many respondents said that they do not understand the news.

Perhaps the biggest question for news platforms from this survey is how to reclaim brand loyalty from the clutter. Creating contexts for better understanding will promote a linear, longitudinal consumption of news. But it is also important not to see the Reuters-Oxford study as merely a brand-related exercise, and to reinvest in the development of news stories in such a way that media users can more usefully refer to issues and their world. to understand better. Perhaps this will be the start of a serious attempt to “reclaim” the news.

the end of

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
Nation World News is the fastest emerging news website covering all the latest news, world’s top stories, science news entertainment sports cricket’s latest discoveries, new technology gadgets, politics news, and more.
Latest news
Related news