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Are you avoiding coronavirus news? You’re not alone

Are you avoiding coronavirus news? You’re not alone
[Photo: Dominic Lipinski/PA Images via Getty Images]

For the first several months after the COVID-19 pandemic went widespread, it seemed like people couldn’t get enough news about it. Matter of fact, traffic to the world’s top news sites surged by 54% by late March. Now, however, it appears that people are starting to avoid news sites even as the pandemic continues to spread.

That’s according to a new survey from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford. The survey polled U.K.-based respondents between May 7 and May 13 and found:

  • A “significant” increase in news avoidance: 22% of respondents said they “often or always actively try to avoid the news.” That’s up from 15% three weeks earlier.
  • But a much higher proportion–59%–said they now “sometimes actively avoid the news.” Only 49% of respondents did the same three weeks earlier.
  • The survey found women are more likely to avoid the news, with 26% of females saying they now do so. Men aren’t far behind, however, with 18% saying they now avoid the news.
  • Of those who avoid the news (across all genders), 28% said they do so because they feel there is nothing they can do with the information reported.
  • 33%, on the other hand, say there is too much news.
  • But a staggering 66% say they avoid COVID-19 news because “they are primarily worried about the effect it has on their mood.”
  • As from which mediums respondents said they are avoiding the news, 78% said they avoid news on TV, 55% said they avoid news on websites and in apps, 46% avoid news they see on social media, and 33% avoid news sent to them by friends in messaging apps or via email.

The survey’s authors note that income, education, and political orientation had little effect on who avoids COVID-19 news. However, as noted above, women reported being more likely to avoid the news than men. Age also seemed to have an effect on news avoidance with 28% of 25- to 44-year-olds being the most likely to avoid news, 19% of under-25s, and 19% of over-45s.

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