Left-wingers are more likely to avoid reading ‘negative’ news stories because they could leave them feeling ‘overwhelmed’ and ‘carrying feelings of powerlessness’, research has found.
Surveys of more than 93,000 people across 46 counties, found that political allegiances made a ‘striking difference’ to why people avoid news.
The findings were revealed in a new report by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism.
They showed how almost half of Britons actively avoid the news, a figure which has doubled in the past five years.
The number of those in the UK who reported avoiding certain types of news ‘sometimes or often’ has risen to 46 per cent, compared to 38 per cent worldwide.
Those on the political Left are more likely to avoid news because it makes them feel ‘overwhelmed, carry feelings of powerlessness, or worry that the news might create arguments,’ the report said.
Meanwhile, those on the Right are ‘far more likely to avoid news because they think it is untrustworthy or biased’.
Left-wingers are more likely to avoid reading ‘negative’ news stories because they could leave them feeling ‘overwhelmed’ and ‘carrying feelings of powerlessness’, research has found
The report added: ‘Concerns about the news having a negative effect on their mood are higher among avoiders in the United Kingdom (55 per cent) and United States (49 per cent) than they are elsewhere.’
Worldwide, around 43 per cent of so-called ‘selective news avoiders’ said they were put off by the repetitiveness of the news agenda, especially around politics and Covid-19.
Just over a third, particularly those under 35, said the news brought down their mood, while around 17 per cent said the news leads to arguments they would rather avoid.
Around 16 per cent said some news stories lead to feelings of powerlessness.
Whilst the findings about political allegiance and avoiding news were focused on the US, one UK respondent said he avoided ‘things that trigger my anxiety and things that can have a negative impact on my day’.
Another said she sometimes found the news to be ‘repetitive and negative’.
Nic Newman, Senior Research Associate at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism and lead author of the report, said: ‘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.’
The report said a ‘significant’ proportion of worldwide respondents, 29 per cent, said they avoided news because they thought it could not be trusted.
In the UK, 34 per cent of those surveyed said they trusted most of the news most of the time.
Surveys of more than 93,000 people across 46 counties, found that political allegiances made a ‘striking difference’ to why people avoid news
Meanwhile, the worldwide average was 42 per cent, with the lowest levels being recorded in the USA and Slovakia at 26 per cent.
The report said low trust countries, such as the United states, France, the United Kingdom, and Slovakia, saw some of the highest levels of news avoidance, as well as news disconnection, with declining interest in news.
The report also revealed a greater proportion of people, especially younger audiences, are finding news on social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok.
Almost eight in 10, or 78 per cent, of 18-24s access news via routes such as aggregators, search engines, and social media each week.
TikTok was the fastest growing sources of news, with 40 per cent of the age group using the platform each week and 15 per cent saying they used it to find, discuss, or share news.
The report’s authors said: ‘The Russia-Ukraine conflict has increased the profile of the network globally. Ukrainians have been documenting their experience of the war, including leaving their homes as refugees, clocking up millions of views in the process.
‘As we noted last year, many publishers have been increasing their investment, but some worry that a platform where entertainment content is so sought-after may not be the most effective place for news.’
Across 12 countries surveyed, including the UK, USA, Germany, France, Japan, and Brazil, 12 per cent of users reported using Instagram for news, up from just 2 per cent in 2014.
Use of TikTok for news grew from 1 per cent to 4 per cent since 2020, while Facebook sat at the top of list at 30 per cent, having dropped 6 per cent since 2014.