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Heads in the sand

10 September, 2020

In our age of negative and overbearing media coverage, it is perhaps no surprise to hear that people are switching off the news. But active disengagement, though understandable, is not good for our society. 

According to Ofcom, after years of growth, the proportion of UK adults getting their news from social media decreased for the first time this year – dropping four percentage points to 45%. And last year, 35% of people in the UK said they, at least sometimes, avoid the news – an elevenpoint climb from 2017.  

This is worrying. Our society relies on people being informed and therefore being able to challenge when things aren’t right. Particularly in the world of responsible business, a lack of public engagement would lead to a concerning lack of accountability and remove the feedback loops that can reward transformative business change.  

But, in the current media landscape, it can be a challenge to stay up-to-date in a healthy way. ‘News anxiety’ in the polarising and argumentative era of Brexit, and the disturbing era of Covid-19, is on the rise. The news is instant, constant, and hard trust.  

But the answer is not to switch off: it is to change the way we produce and consume news coverage. We’re trying to read more slow journalism, like that of our friends at Tortoise Mediaand take on positive counterbalances, like the Guardian’s Upside and German outlet AngstFrei.news. We need to look after our emotional wellbeing, but it is imperative that we stay informed. 

By Ben Wood

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