More people are selectively avoiding important news stories such as the Covid pandemic, Russia's assault on Ukraine, and the cost-of-living crisis, according to a Reuters Institute survey.
The depressing state of the world is leading people to switch off from the news, according to research conducted by Reuters Institute.
The combined impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, Russia-Ukraine conflict, and cost-of-living crisis has led to declining interest in the news, the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism said in its annual Digital News Report on Wednesday.
Across 46 countries surveyed and 93,000 participants, it found the share who said they actively avoided the news had increased from 29 to 38 percent since 2017.
The numbers doubled in some countries, including Brazil (54 percent) and Britain (46 percent).
Young people, in particular, found the news to be a downer, but the main reason for avoiding the news was its repetitiveness, especially around Covid and politics.
"I actively avoid things that trigger my anxiety and things that can have a negative impact on my day," a 27-year-old British respondent told the researchers.
"I will try to avoid reading news about things like deaths and disasters."
Others said the news led to arguments they would rather avoid, or a feeling of powerlessness, while many young people said they found it hard to understand.
Indian anchor Arnab Goswami's false claims about the Pakistani military's involvement in Afghanistan backfired on air pic.twitter.com/eg1sCon1bG— TRT World (@trtworld) September 23, 2021
Challenging situation for journalists
Lead author Nic Newman said the findings were "particularly challenging for the news industry".
"Subjects that journalists consider most important, such as political crises, international conflicts, and global pandemics, seem to be precisely the ones that are turning some people away," he was quoted as saying.
"Large numbers of people see the media as subject to undue political influence, and only a small minority believe most news organisations put what's best for society ahead of their own commercial interest," wrote Reuters Institute Director Rasmus Kleis Nielsen in the report.
Most of the study was completed before the assault on Ukraine in February, but subsequent surveys in five countries found these issues had only deepened in its aftermath.
Trust in the media fell in half the countries surveyed, and rose in just seven, the report said, reversing gains made during the pandemic.
Overall, trust was at 42 percent, down from 44 percent when the media had a small positive bump from the pandemic.
The United States showed the lowest level of trust at 26 percent, tied with Slovakia.
The problem is being compounded by young people increasingly detached from legacy media, with 15 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds saying they use TikTok as a primary source of news.