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.

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