Why people avoid news

In one of my recent posts, I stated that everyone should take an interest in the news. But what about those who are adamant that the news should not be consumed. Is there good reason to not follow the news? Will our lives benefit substantially by switching off all correspondence to news? There is a strong argument. It starts with Apathy.

Apathy can be defined as the absence of interest or passion in something considered to be interesting or moving. To me, the news is fascinating. No two days are the same and, as events unfold, it can certainly be gripping. It can’t be denied that the news is moving. Reports on UK poverty, overseas famine and victims of global disasters all create a string of emotional reports. Only the most heartless person would not find the images of starving Ethiopian children moving. There are always beliefs that people have. It’s possible that not having an interest in news stems further than an individual’s choice.

GROWING UP can possibly be a reason why somebody might not take note of newspapers and news programmes. I did a simple internet search to find out about children being exposed to news and presented to me were pages of advice as to how parents can shield their children from the “violence” of global events. All very well, but as an article from Children Now (http://www.childrennow.org/index.php/learn/twk_news) explains, all children will be exposed to such events through their peers, regardless how hard parents try and prevent it. Homework might involve an issue brought up in recent news; Comedy programmes might contain references to news events; Subconsciously listening to the news in the car. All are very subtle intakes. Exposure to sex, violence and crime are all to familiar on a video game and so can be very enticing for a young and inquisitive audience. There does have to be a balance of news and reality. For instance a terrorist attack in Pakistan is not reflective of society in the UK. Sometimes if balances aren’t met and children are exposed to hard news at an unsuitable ages, without explanation or appropriate guidance, then fears are likely to grow and the news will become more a source of terror and fear rather than a source of good journalism and factual references to global events.

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CONTENT of news bulletins also explain a great deal about why people choose to avoid. In 2002, research by the Independent Television Commission and Broadcasting Standards Council found that only 43 percent of TV news viewers felt all areas of society were fairly represented. The majority felt the news contained too much politics. So why would we want to watch a news programme that only focuses on celebrities and politicians? As the study shows, viewers and readers want news that matters not about celebrity culture and lifestyles. A fairly recent comment by a TV reality star stated “people my age don’t watch the news because it’s boring”. Not wanting to be stereotypical, but it was a member of “The Only Way is Essex” cast. There may be a point in the statement. The interests of a teenage and young adult audience differ from that of a middle age audience. Politics and financial news just does not create an interest or passion because it is deemed “boring”, despite the fact every decision made will in turn affect every individual. It’s tabloid news from the red-top newspapers that at the very least inspire a generation to pick up a newspaper. Although news about The X Factor and celebrity lifestyles aren’t forms of real journalism, there is a market. You could argue that such celebrity and tabloid focussed “journalism” are encouraging a generation to turn away from news that really matters and more tabloid news than ever is turning modest readers and viewers away for good.

DEPRESSING is a word that often describes the news. Everyday, newspapers and news broadcasts announce a death toll, somewhere somebody has been killed, a terrorist attack has left many injured and many more. Death, disaster and destruction are what news providers focus on because it is likely to gain most interest. The current crisis in Syria has painted a very depressing picture. In a tale similar to good vs evil, the events of the Middle East uprising unravel like a gripping novel. It is very sad that the plight of the people who are fighting for their cause and against a violent regime has to played out in front of millions of viewers. Now, consider if the conflict was not reported about. It is a very disheartening scene, as a viewer we see the victims speak to the camera about what they are going through. Journalists and news networks provide a base for victims around the globe to tell their story. If conflicts and wars went unreported, could we go on with our daily lives knowing that such deadly occurrences were taking place? I think not. Yes, the news is often full of dismal content, but the news allows others to tell their often harrowing and distressing stories to the rest of the world. For what comes of it, coverage, support and help, that can only be a good thing.

IRRELEVANT news is one way that interest or passion can be absent when considering news. Out of thousands of stories that are consumed have any had a real impact? Has any news story led to major lifestyle changes? Probably not, but some reports highlight the lengths other people will go to in order to help others. The death of a woman running the London marathon and a woman swimming the English channel resulted in a huge surge of donations to the charities involved and so broadcasting the story of such tragic events can lead viewers and readers to make positive decisions. On a different note, questions can be raised about the relevance of national and international news. It is often regarded that local news creates more of an interest than national news because readers and viewers can relate on a local scale. I won’t be interested if there’s been a robbery in a street in New York but I will be very interested if there’s been an incident in my town. It really is a shame that local news is under the threat of cuts. Regional print journalism is in decline, advertising costs increasing and so are the prices of newspapers. Whilst regional TV news programmes are things of beauty, viewing figures aren’t groundbreaking. Whilst some claim national programmes are bias and London-centric, even the most respected regional news programmes are accused of favouritism towards certain towns and cities. Divisions and conflicts will always appear when it comes to relevant news and sometimes that is what drives audiences away.

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ADDICTION to news can become a serious habit. Studies show that watching too much news and current affairs can lead to depression. There is no doubt that the news is more downbeat than upbeat and it has been noted that exposure to violence and scandal can leave viewers and readers becoming anxious and more negative. It’s not a reason to completely ignore news. Our brains work in a way that we always want new information and an unfolding dramatic news story can perhaps diverse an ordinary day. I wouldn’t say it was bad to be a so called “news junkie”. Knowledge of what’s happening around the world is what makes everyday conversation. Without the exposure and information people do appear quite pitiful. 24 hour news channels, mobile phone applications, Twitter and the entire internet can all feed a habit of reading, watching or listening to news. You could say it’s like a drug.

There are of course enormous lists as to why people don’t watch or read the news. Any reason from it being on too long to being on at the wrong time can be used to explain why some avoid the news. The news can MISLEAD when it comes to some manipulating of comments; PRACTISES can be criticised suggesting news gatherers are IMMORAL; Suggest you spend an hour a day watching the news and half an hour reading a newspaper. Is this a WASTE OF TIME?; Busier lifestyles simply mean people CAN’T TAKE INTEREST because they are working or otherwise occupied.

The old phrase NO NEWS IS GOOD NEWS can be related to this topic quite well. A tiny bit of research led me to find that those who have less exposure to news are genuinely happier. That is good news. They might very well be happier because they have more spare time and take little note of scandal, violence, sex, corruption and affairs that dominate the world stage. I’d certainly feel strange not knowing that millions of people are suffering, not knowing what political decisions are being made. I really do think it would be harder in life to avoid news than to consume it.

I will always have an interest and passion for news and current affairs. I admire outstanding broadcast and written journalism. Whilst I absolutely despise the practises exposed in the Leveson Inquiry, there is a need for good, investigative journalism. I disagree with ideas that children should be shielded away from news. There are plenty of outstanding news programmes, including Newsround and Newsbeat which deliver news in a specific way for their target audiences. Unfortunately, it is death, drama and destruction which make the headlines because it catches the public eye and entices readers and viewers.

I will always believe in introducing young people to the news. As I said in my last piece, the news is out there for everybody to grasp. Unreported worlds can have their stories told and government scandals and corruption can be uncovered through the best investigative journalism. To hide away from the news is to hide away from the plight and affairs that dominate around the globe.

Everyone should take an interest in news

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It’s actually quite frightening when I hear young people, similar age to myself, say they take no interest in the news. They don’t watch, read or listen to any bulletins. Many use the excuse that the news is “boring” and much of the content is “depressing” and “negative”. It really is a shame that people don’t want to take note of events happening around the world – the plight of famine in third world countries, alleged election corruption and natural disasters. All events have an effect on the viewer or reader. Whether it be just a simple opinion or an action you take to help. The news is for everyone and everyone must take a grasp.

I have always enjoyed writing, in particular factual writing. Ever since around mid-high school (around 2007) I affirmed my desire to be a journalist. Watching the “grown up” news had me hooked from the start and I began to develop my interests in news and current affairs. At the time, many of my peer group would simply shrug off anything related to the news. Even by the end of my school life, some of my group still didn’t watch or read any news. I always remember a few people, at the age of sixteen baring in mind, stating they didn’t know there was a war in Iraq or Afghanistan. By this time the Iraq war had already started and ended. These people didn’t even know about it. All to their own, it’s a personal choice whether you watch a news programme or read a newspaper, but it was really quite fearsome that some sixteen year olds had no idea about the casualties and what the war had entailed.

I suppose my love of news and current affairs goes back to before school. Quite literally. My Dad would come off his night shift at 6am and without fail would always bring in a newspaper. He still does. Whilst waiting for the rest of the family, I would take a read of the paper. If there was no newspaper, I always remember BBC Breakfast being on the TV screens. And so I was in. I would take into school and college a barrel of conversation. Discussions would take place in our lessons about some of the news agenda. Many would sit silently, wide-eyed and with a blank expression, to say they had no idea what was going on. Some just didn’t care at all. Sad. The news formed much more than an interest and passion. It developed me socially and almost everyone was aware (by the end) that I wanted to be a journalist because of my long-standing curiosity of world events.

I have always seen the news as a social tool, possibly more than a factual provider of events. I know of families who prevent their children and teenagers from watching television news because of the content. It’s too “negative” and “inappropriate”, apparently. I’m afraid that’s reality. Keeping young people in particular in some sort of bubble world will do more harm than good. Inevitably there will be discussions about news events and if they can’t answer then they look stupid. I’ve seen it happen. And more so, keeping individuals in a bubble world, away from the harsh reality of world affairs, is so very damaging and detrimental to a persons view of the world. Historic images of the starving Ethiopians, the September 11th terrorist attacks and subsequent war on terror are difficult to comprehend. Emotions run high – a mixture of anger, upset and loss all depict these images. However, if they are not broadcast, consider the impact. The need to help children in poverty is vital and without the news to display the efforts of charities and the plight of the victims is degrading to all. I am a strong believer that everybody, how old or young they may be, must be exposed to the reality of global affairs.

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There is so much content for any age group. I always remember watching Newsround. Essentially, a news programme for children. Some of the harsh realities toned down and a duty to provide realistic and tackling issues to their younger viewer. Radio 1′s Newsbeat provides a programme select to it’s audiences of teenagers and young adults. Able to broadcast the news in a non-patronising format, yet a way that tackles the audience who may not be as interested. The likes of the ITV national and regional news are for the average mainstream viewer, varying of all ages. The content is selected for its mainstream appeal, often the ‘big’ stories of the day. That in comparison to Newsnight and Radio 4′s Today programme have a selected, high end viewer/listener and so content is selective and often more specialist. Online and news providers are at their most popular. Millions of users log on to the likes of the BBC News and ITV News websites each day, whilst Twitter and mobile phone apps have become a real force for providing news. The news is more reachable than ever.

It’s not just national broadcasts that are important. Regional news is vital. Whether it be on local radio, a local newspaper or a regional news programme, the necessity for local news services are as high as ever. Take the North West for instance, my region. Granada Reports and North West Tonight are both award winning programmes with award winning presenters and reporters. Not only do the programmes tackle hard hitting news – the future of the NHS, the Morecambe Bay cockle picking tragedy and the Hillsborough Disaster to name a few – the programmes also form a base for local residents and organisations to promote their own hardship. Local newspapers including the Liverpool Echo, Warrington Guardian, Manchester Evening News and so forth all dedicate space to tell readers about events local and relevant to them. Work at local charities and appeals for help are made through various regional medium. And that is what is so special about local news. It brings about a real sense of community and satisfaction when reading, listening or watching. Something everyone can take a leaf out of.

There will always be people who claim they don’t watch news programmes because they are “depressing” amongst other terminology. Whilst it is refreshing when more upbeat news such as Olympic and sports success and the royal family events dominate the agenda, I always remember being told a good analogy about news. Thousands of planes land at airports around the world every hour – It’s only the plane that crashes that the news will cover. It is perhaps a rather gloomy perspective but that is what viewers are interested in. Dramatic and extraordinary events. That’s what news is all about.

I believe it’s rather sad when someone says they don’t watch, read or listen to the news. It makes me think they are perhaps out of touch with the real world, real events and real world scenarios. The news impacts on every person. Political decisions touch everybody’s life. A Royal wedding brings millions of people together. Poverty ridden countries bring emotions to all who watch. Regardless of what someone’s interests are and whether they prefer politics to technology, the news is out there for everyone of all interests to take hold of. More than anything it is a duty to take an interest in news and current affairs.

Axed: TV favourite victim of budget cuts

Dropped: Tony Livesey has been the regular sports face of North West Tonight since 2006.

Dropped: Tony Livesey has been the regular sports face of North West Tonight since 2006.

One of the North West’s most popular presenters is being dropped in order to make savings. Tony Livesey has been at the helm of the sports desk on the BBC’s North West Tonight programme for seven years, and, despite his first appearance on the programme, he has become a firm favourite amongst viewers.

The announcement was made public during Sunday’s edition of ‘Gordon Burns’ on Radio Manchester, when Livesey, who was a guest, confirmed he was to leave at the end of next month. He told the programme that he was leaving to pursue a new project as the “face of current affairs” with BBC One magazine programme, The One Show. Admitting it was time to move on, the Manchester Evening News has reported that the sports presenter’s contract was not offered for renewal. In an email leaked to the evening paper, Livesey thanks his colleagues and confirms he will depart at the end of July. In it, he says “I’ve really enjoyed my time here, more I think than you can imagine and, who knows, one day I may be back” adding that management told him his contract would not be renewed.

Tony will not leave the nightly news programme altogether. It has been confirmed that he will remain a part of the North West Tonight team, deputising main host Roger Johnson. Speaking of his axe on Sunday, Livesey told Gordon Burns that it brought an end to the “days of me, you and Ranvir“; Gordon retired in 2011, whilst Ranvir Singh left to front ITV’s Daybreak less than six months later. Speaking of the presenter swap-around, Livesey likened the red sofa of North West Tonight to the red chair on The Graham Norton Show where contestants are “tipped” over the back.

The regular sports presenter had an initial rocky start to his North West Tonight career, with viewers emailing that he must look tidier. He also admitted he got sent a number of ties in the post, in reference to his apparent “scruffy” and tieless appearance; On his first day he was even mistaken for someone who was in the building for an audition rather than the main presenter. Despite this, Tony has won round the viewers with his quirky humour, passion and knowledge for sport and his love for Burnley FC.

North West Tonight’s current editor, Michelle Mayman, thanked Tony for his work, adding she was pleased he was staying in touch with the programme. She also said “he has done a brilliant job since he joined the team in 2006, bringing his good humour and warmth to proceedings. It has been great fun working with him, and we wish him all the very best.”

The teatime favourite will leave his current role on July 26th but will return to host the main programme on occasion. Livesey will still present his Radio 5 Live Weekend Breakfast Show and his new role as editor of current affairs at The One Show will begin in August.

Weather presenter Dianne Oxberry remains the longest serving member of the North West Tonight on-air team, having joined in 1995.