Broken and distrusting: why Americans are pulling away from the daily news

Via:  Nerm_L  •  2 months ago  •  33 comments

By:   Chris McGreal (the Guardian)

Broken and distrusting: why Americans are pulling away from the daily news
A Reuters Institute survey found that a rising number of people are avoiding the news or just don't believe it

Sponsored by group News Viners

News Viners

Opinion isn't news.  IMO the problem is that people are being inundated with opinion and actually being provided less news.  Reporting the opinion of others is still an opinion piece and not news.

Opinions are rather obviously biased.  So, the intrusion of opinion into news reporting only biases the news reporting.  Opinionated analysis of current events is nothing more than an attempt to influence the public to accept a biased point of view.  Current events change but the opinionated analysis does not.  Current events are only being used to support a biased point of view.  The unchanging biased opinion feeds on current events to sustain itself.  And current events that do not conform to unchanging opinionated analysis simply isn't newsworthy.

We've reached the point where news cannot break through the wall of opinion.  The public cannot form its own opinion; the public is only allowed to agree or disagree with opinionated analysis of current events.  Institutional opinion has displaced public opinion in formulating policy, creating legislation, and setting national priorities.  The news media only uses public opinion to validate its own assumed authority over national affairs.

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T

This might be just another negative news story. And if it is, there is evidence that many of you will turn away in despair.

The Reuters Institute revealed last month that 42% of Americans actively avoid the news at least some of the time because it grinds them down or they just don't believe it. Fifteen percent said they disconnected from news coverage altogether. In other countries, such as the UK and Brazil, the numbers selectively avoiding it were even higher.

"In the United States, those who self-identify on the right are far more likely to avoid news because they think it is untrustworthy or biased, but those on the left are more likely to feel overwhelmed, carry feelings of powerlessness, or worry that the news might create arguments," the institute said.

The Reuters Institute said that alongside the rising number of people avoiding news is a drop in trust in reporting in the US to the lowest point yet recorded at just 26% of the population.

All of this rang true to Amanda Ripley, a former Time journalist and author of High Conflict: Why We Get Trapped - and How We Get Out. She confessed in a Washington Post column that she was embarrassed as a reporter to admit that she has "been actively avoiding the news for years". Ripley said it left her "so drained that I couldn't write".

So she rationed her consumption, cutting out television news altogether and waiting until later in the day to read the papers. But it kept coming at her on her phone and social media.

"If you look at that Reuters data and extrapolate it out, we can estimate that roughly 100 million American adults are not getting their news needs met," Ripley said.

The result, said the Reuters Institute, is that Americans are backing away. "Prior to the invasion of Ukraine, consumption of traditional media, TV and print, declined further with online and social consumption not making up the gap," it said.

And yet major longstanding news organisations are sceptical because their audience numbers just keep growing. Professor Emily Bell, founding director of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia Journalism School, said that while there are short term peaks and troughs in engagement with the news around major events, the long term trend is up.

Bell said that in recent years the total number of stories read by Americans has grown to be much larger than she would ever have imagined. "So I start from this position of, is this really happening? People say, 'I'm sick of the news, I'm actually taking steps to avoid it or I'm not paying attention to it.' While one has to take them at their word, statistically I would like to see a bit more evidence it's actually true," she said.

The Guardian's audience figures reflect those doubts. Readership in the US rose sharply through the first months of the Covid pandemic, fell back a little and then spiked to a new high during the 2020 presidential election. It again peaked after the Russian invasion of Ukraine in March. But the Guardian US's long term trend is up and even when readership falls back, it remains significantly higher than before the pandemic.

Bell also pointed out that although younger people may be turning away from traditional news sources that doesn't necessarily mean they're turning away from the news.

"Podcasting has an incredibly strong, young audience. This is a long form storytelling format, which really appeals to the under-25s which I don't think anybody could have predicted. A couple of years ago, I was teaching a group of undergraduates and they were largely uninterested in the basic output of the New York Times but if you mentioned Michael Barbaro and The Daily podcast (the New York Times's daily podcast) they got incredibly overexcited," she said.

Still, Americans, exhausted by it all, may be increasingly likely to retreat between the big stories. It's also possible that people say they are turning away from some news because so much more is coming at them, but at the same time they still consume more than they ever did.

Ripley said she has been "inundated" with messages from Americans, both in and out of the news business, who feel as she does about what seems to be a relentless barrage of negativity. "Many of them said heartbreaking things. Somebody said, 'I felt like my brain was broken'," she said.

"Particularly with the pandemic, there has been a lot of very unsettling, nerve racking news. You can't avoid it, it creeps into every crevice of your life. It's invasive in a way that it wasn't even 10 years ago."

Bell, who sits on the Guardian Media Group's commercial board, agreed. "The sense of being overwhelmed, particularly with troubling and bad news, is very real. It's exhausting," she said. "People feel for their own mental stability, that there are a certain number of things about which you can't do very much on a daily basis, where opting out of the news might be something that is very appealing."

Bell said that part of the problem is how news now comes at us. Three decades ago, Americans would have read about the Rwandan genocide in the daily newspaper dropped on their doorstep, or heard about it on radio and television, and then turned the page or listened to the next news item. Perhaps they would have read about it again the next day.

"The way that we have designed our new communications infrastructure is to be absolutely relentless," she said. "If I read one story about somebody being made ill or dying, possibly because they had to have a Covid vaccine, I get 50 stories about people dying from every single news outlet in the world. So the overwhelming impression you could get is that something bad was happening with vaccines even though it wasn't. And even though every single story was was more or less accurate, it was only representing a tiny bit of what was happening in the in the real world."

Molly Bingham, the founder of Orb Media which reports on global efforts to create a more sustainable future, sees an additional problem in a loss of confidence in how news is covered.

As the Reuters Institute noted, there are Americans on the right who don't trust much of the media because it doesn't reflect their political beliefs and so they turn away or stick with sources that tell them what they want to her. But Bingham, who made a well received documentary about armed resistance in Iraq, sees a wider credibility problem.

"There is massive simplification. If you look at the current conflict in Ukraine, and the way the American media has cast it in a narrative we're all very comfortable with of 'good Ukranians resisting bad Russians'. But there's also this sort of cognitive dissonance because when Iraqis were opposing the presence of foreign troops in their country, they were terrorists, they were very bad," she said.

"I think that very simple storylines are alienating because they don't reflect our experience of the world."

One of the answers, said Ripley, is solutions-based journalism - and she has some of her own. "I've spent a lot of time talking to people who study what humans need to thrive in an information saturated environment. There were three ingredients that were missing, and those are hope, agency and dignity. Those are things I find every time I go out in the field, reporting terrible tragedies, but I didn't always include them in the piece," she said.

All of which raises a hoary old question that has stalked newsrooms for years: - do readers, listeners and viewers really want positive stories? Bell is sceptical. "We often say, if only journalists would write more good news stories. This is a horrible thing to say, but people tend not to read the good news," she said.

"For instance, you could look at some of the progress that has been made against climate goals. Now, it's not thoroughly good news but still progress has been made. If you write a fairly long considered piece about that, it tends to get fairly low traffic. If you have a piece saying Britain is going to go to 40C (104F) next week, everybody is going to read that piece."

Ripley acknowledges the problem. "I think there's some truth to it but I don't think it's the whole story. Increasingly, stories that are hopeful, surprising, generate curiosity, those stories go viral. Stories that offer hope, agency and dignity feel like breaking news right now, because we are so overwhelmed with the opposite," she said.


jrGroupDiscuss - desc
Professor Principal
1  seeder  Nerm_L    2 months ago

When news organizations become the tool for disseminating institutional propaganda then the Fourth Estate has become a Fifth Column. 

A healthy democracy allows the public to form its own opinion.  Only totalitarian autocrats attempt to use the media to force the public to accept institutional opinions.  

Vic Eldred
Professor Principal
1.1  Vic Eldred  replied to  Nerm_L @1    2 months ago

“I think it’s become clearer that fairness is overrated,” Holt  said . “Before you run off and tweet that headline, let me explain a bit. The idea that we should always give two sides equal weight and merit does not reflect the world we find ourselves in.

Professor Principal
1.1.1  seeder  Nerm_L  replied to  Vic Eldred @1.1    2 months ago
“I think it’s become clearer that fairness is overrated,” Holt  said . “Before you run off and tweet that headline, let me explain a bit. The idea that we should always give two sides equal weight and merit does not reflect the world we find ourselves in.

The problem is that the two sides are expressing opinions and not facts.  News reporters present facts.  Journalists only use facts to present a biased point of view.

The sun may set in the west, as Lester Holt says.  But why that fact is important is a matter of opinion.  Journalists like Holt aren't reporting that the sun sets in the west; they're telling the public why that fact is important and expecting the public to agree with their point of view.

Junior Principal
1.1.2  Hallux  replied to  Vic Eldred @1.1    2 months ago

Holt has a valid point to make and he will get the shyte kicked out of him for doing so.

Vic Eldred
Professor Principal
1.1.3  Vic Eldred  replied to  Hallux @1.1.2    2 months ago

He is speaking for most of the leftist in the business. They are there to influence the population rather than to inform it.

he will get the shyte kicked out of him for doing so.

To the contrary: he will get awards for it.

Vic Eldred
Professor Principal
1.1.4  Vic Eldred  replied to  Nerm_L @1.1.1    2 months ago
they're telling the public why that fact is important and expecting the public to agree with their point of view.

Very good Nerm.

Did this all start with reporting during the Vietnam War?  Or did it evolve from the idea of news analysis, which began with the MacNeil/Lehrer Report?

However this began, we now have a very dishonest, far left based news media.

Junior Principal
1.1.5  Hallux  replied to  Vic Eldred @1.1.3    2 months ago

Partisanship has brainwashed you into thinking so ...[removed]

Junior Principal
1.1.6  Hallux  replied to  Vic Eldred @1.1.4    2 months ago

You also have a very dishonest far right based news media. Y'all will be Twitter Twits in no time.

Professor Principal
1.1.7  seeder  Nerm_L  replied to  Vic Eldred @1.1.4    2 months ago
Did this all start with reporting during the Vietnam War?  Or did it evolve from the idea of news analysis, which began with the MacNeil/Lehrer Report?

Zapruder film.  The film spoke for itself.  But there was a cohort of journalists dedicated to opinionating over the Zapruder film for years after the event.  How does a news organization top Jack Rudy shooting Lee Harvey Oswald in the guts on live TV?

The Zapruder film really did elevate opinion to the same stature as news.  The film presents the sensational facts, a news reporter is unnecessary.  News reporters became journalist whose function was to explain the facts rather than reporting the facts.  

The Kennedy assassination created opinion journalism that was compelled to top the last sensation.

Buzz of the Orient
Professor Principal
1.1.8  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  Nerm_L @1.1.1    2 months ago

The FACT is that the sun DOESN'T set, the Earth rotates.  Oh, where are Walter Cronkite and Paul Harvey when we really need them?

Just Jim NC TttH
PhD Principal
2  Just Jim NC TttH    2 months ago

"The pollster said that those expressing "a great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence in print news is 16% and just 11% for TV news.

All political groups gave a thumbs down to the media, with Democrats making the biggest shift since President Joe Biden has been in office.

“Republicans' (5%) and independents' (12%) confidence in newspapers is the lowest on record for these party groups, while Democrats' (35%) has been lower in the past. Democrats' confidence in newspapers rose to the 42% to 46% range during the Donald Trump administration but fell when President Joe Biden took office,” said Gallup."

Professor Principal
2.1  seeder  Nerm_L  replied to  Just Jim NC TttH @2    2 months ago

From your link:

"Bias in the polarized nation might also play a role.  A Pew study  out last week said that left-leaning reporters are OK with bias while news consumers are not, for example."

That bias is why news stories are like deja vu all over again.  Current events may change but the bias does not.  So, with every bit of breaking news what the public actually gets is a repeat of the same opinions.  

Professor Principal
3  TᵢG    2 months ago

Not at all surprising.   The level of bullshit in the media is outrageous.

PhD Guide
3.1  evilgenius  replied to  TᵢG @3    2 months ago

I don't know what people expect. When companies say the opinion columns are more important than the news, there is something wrong. There is no one to blame except those that consume these opinions as news.

Professor Principal
3.2  Ender  replied to  TᵢG @3    2 months ago

I think it all started with the advent of 24/7 news. Have to keep the cycle going.

PhD Guide
3.2.1  evilgenius  replied to  Ender @3.2    2 months ago
I think it all started with the advent of 24/7 news.

Yes, first cable, then the internet. Their job isn't news, it's making money from advertising. 

Professor Principal
3.2.2  Ender  replied to  evilgenius @3.2.1    2 months ago

Clickbait.   Haha

Professor Quiet
3.2.3  cjcold  replied to  evilgenius @3.2.1    2 months ago

At what point do I start making money?

Don't even have a star at Langley.

Dismayed Patriot
Professor Participates
4  Dismayed Patriot    2 months ago
 42% of Americans actively avoid the news at least some of the time because it grinds them down or they just don't believe it.

Makes sense when about a third of Americans live in their own alternate universe where they believe in horse shit alternative facts, where up is down, right wing fascism is fashionable, climate change is a hoax, the earth is only 9,000 years old, fossils were planted by Satan to deceive us, evolution is a hoax, Democrats are snake hybrid aliens that eat white Christian babies and a thrice married serial adulterer and liar is their moral compass and won the last election despite all evidence to the contrary. Of course those folk will avoid what they see as the "MSM" which is constantly reporting on and talking about facts and a reality these brainwashed indoctrinated right wing religious conservatives no longer reside in.

This isn't a sad state of affairs for main stream media, it's a sad state of affairs for the gullible, deluded and deranged who are easily swayed by conspiracy theories, partisan rhetoric and religious manipulation.

Professor Principal
4.1  Tessylo  replied to  Dismayed Patriot @4    2 months ago

Those folks live in a state of projection, deflection, denial, outright lies, alternate reality/Universe.

Jeremy Retired in NC
PhD Guide
5  Jeremy Retired in NC    2 months ago

The minute they started pushing opinion instead of news they quit being "journalists" or "reporters".  They became bloggers.  Just another schmuck with a microphone thinking their opinion is fact.

Professor Principal
6  Ender    2 months ago

What keeps popping up in my news feeds is one of the worst out there, the Washington Examiner.

Such bullshit one sided 'reporting' in that one.

It is nothing more than tabloid fodder.

Professor Principal
7  JBB    2 months ago

No Wonder, America's Most Watched Cable News Network is nothing but fake news and propaganda!

Professor Principal
7.1  Ender  replied to  JBB @7    2 months ago
But one of Tucker's congregants said she's had enough with his diatribes against abortion, antifa, Black Lives Matter, critical race theory, feminism, gun laws, abortion and protesters disrupting Supreme Court justice Brett Kavanaugh's dinner at a Washington, D.C., steakhouse, as well as claiming the Jan. 6 insurrection was a hoax.

“He’d start his sermons with this rambling 30- to 40-minute rant that sounded like it was taken straight from, like, Fox News,” said Noelle Fortman, 23. “One time we went there, he referred to the COVID vaccine as the ‘mark of the beast’ that we needed to fight against, and I was like, ‘Yo, this is crazy.’”

Freshman Silent
8  TOM PA    2 months ago

From what I've seen most network news programs (NBC, CBS, ABC and even Fox NOT their opinion shows) are straight news from intro to first commercial.  

Split Personality
Professor Principal
8.1  Split Personality  replied to  TOM PA @8    2 months ago

I think we Pennsylvanians see things as they are, Tom.

Junior Principal
9  Hallux    2 months ago

Institutions have become windmills and all the windsocks have one to tilt against.

Moving on ...

Overview and key findings of the 2022 Digital News Report

Sean Treacy
Professor Expert
10  Sean Treacy    2 months ago

The media is partisan.  It has been pro left for decades, but they've ditched any attempt at playing it down the middle. They are not reporters, they are participants in the struggle against republicans. As the internecine struggles at outlets like the New York Times demonstrate, younger journalists abhor the idea of objectivity.  They live in a left wing twitter bubble where they just reinforce each other's partisanship and become ever more extreme. 

Junior Principal
10.1  Hallux  replied to  Sean Treacy @10    2 months ago

Oh those poor republicans, they are such innocents.

Dismayed Patriot
Professor Participates
10.2  Dismayed Patriot  replied to  Sean Treacy @10    2 months ago
It has been pro left for decades

It has been pro-reality for decades. The Republicans and the right have move so far from reality that they live in their own alternate universe with alternative facts which is why they view the MSM as being so partisan. Also, few right wing conservatives get their news from any actual reputable sources any longer since they have extreme right wing partisan media readily available on every media format. Right wing conservative Republicans would benefit a lot if they chose to pull their heads out of the right wing media outlets that just pander to their views and watch/read the AP, Reuters, BBC News or PBS Newshour.

Split Personality
Professor Principal
10.2.1  Split Personality  replied to  Dismayed Patriot @10.2    2 months ago

The conservatives, mostly of one party, enact law after law to eliminate voter fraud

but can only come up with a handful of violations, many by their own voters.

They've been told for so many years that dead Dems still vote, so they cast votes for

Trump on their dead mother's behalf and are surprised to get caught.

Voter fraud is statistically insignificant.

They also waste time passing laws against CRT but they cannot define it.

Tucker is living nightly proof of that.

Professor Expert
11  Tacos!    2 months ago

I don’t know how we measure a thing like this.

I read the LA Times because it’s the big local paper (even though I don’t even live in that county anymore). A lot of their “news” is subject to liberal bias and it can make for distracting reading. On the other hand - once upon a time - the LA Times was a conservative paper, serving the conservative interests of its corporate masters and allies.

So, maybe this is a thing that is always there but swings from one end of the spectrum to the other - and back.

PhD Quiet
12  igknorantzrulz    2 months ago

i have six television monitors in my man cave, without cable hooked up, cause got fed up with the damn news


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