Lots of people are turning away from the news because it lowers their mood with depressing stories, new research has revealed.
The Reuters Institute’s digital news report suggests that almost four in 10 (38%) say they often or sometimes avoid the news – up from 29% in 2017.
The report found the number of people avoiding news over the past five years doubled in the UK (46%) and Brazil (54%) while 36% – particularly those under 35 said the news affected their mood.
The research said news such as the Covid-19 pandemic, contributed to the increase in people avoiding news bulletins, programmes and articles.
Less than half of the sample (47%) said they were very or extremely interested in news compared with 67% in 2015.
Nearly half of those who took part in the global survey – 43% – said they were put off by the repetitiveness of the news, specifically too much politics and Covid-19 coverage.
One female respondent, aged 19 from the UK, said: “Truthfully, I don’t like to dwell too much on the mainstream news. I find sometimes it can be repetitive and negative.”
29% of those surveyed said the news was untrustworthy or biased, while trust of news reporting fell in half the countries surveyed and rose in just seven, compared with last year.
But trust in news is still higher than it was before the pandemic, which reinforced the importance of reliable media for many people.
Some said they avoided the news because it led to arguments they would rather avoid (17%) or made them feel powerless (16%), while 5% said they avoid news altogether.
Less than a quarter (23%) get their news directly from a website or app, down nine points since 2018.
Those aged 18 to 24 prefer to access news via social media, search engines and mobile aggregators.
The report found that many young people are moving away from Facebook towards more visual platforms like Instagram and TikTok, where entertainment and social influencers play a bigger role.
More than 93,000 people in 46 countries took part in the survey.
Ten years ago, 59% of people would still read a physical newspaper each week. That’s now dropped to 17%. A decade ago, 79% were still regular consumers of TV news bulletins, that’s now down to 53% according to the research.
The report’s lead author, Nic Newman, said: “These findings are particularly challenging for the news industry.
“Subjects that journalists consider most important, such as political crises, international conflicts and global pandemics, seem to be precisely the ones that are turning some people away.”