News takes its toll on readers

A NEW study has revealed that more than half of adults in Australia try to avoid the news occasionally or often, with a large group of people avoiding news because it has negative effects on mood. 

Jerry Watkins.

The study, “Digital News Report: Australia 2017”,  published by the University of Canberra’s News and Media Research Centre also cites other reasons why people avoid news, such as unreliability (news can’t be relied upon to be true) or helplessness (people didn’t feel that there is anything they can do about news stories)Lead author Dr Jerry Watkins, says the report highlights the complicated issues emerging around trust in news.

“Australians can and do access a wide range of news content across a range of traditional and digital platforms,” Dr Watkins says.

“But less than half of adult Australians actually trust the news that they choose to watch, read, or listen to.

“Social media continues to grow as the preferred main source of news for younger Australians, yet less than a third of under-35 year olds say that news on social media helps them to distinguish fact from fiction.

“It’s likely that fake news and an increasingly polarised media landscape are contributing to this unexpectedly high level of news avoidance, which is a particularly worrying sign.”

The report also highlights that more women (53 per cent) than men (45 per cent) find that news can have a negative affect on their mood and more men (18 per cent) than women (11 per cent) avoid news that can lead to arguments.

Other key findings from the report include:

·         63 per cent of Australians are extremely or very interested in the news;

·         Over a third of 18-24 year olds (38 per cent) use social media as their main news source, while 32 per cent of 25-34 year olds prefer news websites;

·         20 per cent of adult online respondents directly follow politicians and parties on social media. More than half of these said dissatisfaction with political news coverage was behind their decision; and

·         Australians are most interested in ‘”news about my region, city or town” followed by “international news” and “news about crime, justice and security”.

Now in its third year, the report is based on a survey of over 2000 adult news consumers in Australia and is part of a global study of 36 territories coordinated by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford.

 

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