A fresh Reuters Institute report detects an epidemic of news avoidance

The annual Reuters Institute Digital News Report, released Tuesday evening, with its survey of more than 93,000 readers in 46 countries, lays out a trio of tough challenges for publishers:

  • Selective news avoidance is high and increasing. On average, 38% of those surveyed said that they often or sometimes avoid news on certain topics — especially politics and COVID-19. They find that kind of journalism depressing and repetitive.
  • Levels of trust remain low. Only 42% of those surveyed said they trust most news most of the time. As was the case a year ago, the United States finishes dead last among the countries with just 26% expressing trust, a three-point dip from 2021.
  • Progress on getting users to pay for digital news remains halting. In the U.S., 19% pay for at least some online news, but large national newspapers are capturing most of that action. Paid digital subscriptions for regional titles are a much harder sell.

Also, despite the attention to Substack successes, individual brands are so far a blip. In the U.S., only 7% of the group who do pay for any subscriptions pay for one or more newsletters.

While news avoidance has been on the radar for some time, Oxford-based Reuters digs a bit deeper.

The survey is repeated year-to-year, and the rate for selective avoidance has gone up significantly in the last five years — from 29% as measured in 2017 to the current 38%.

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