More than a third of people in the UK are avoiding the news because it is too negative, divisive and makes them feel powerless, finds a new report, reflecting a similar trend worldwide. Positive News magazine responds with a special focus on the social and environmental progress happening in the UK
More than a third of people in the UK actively avoid the news today, according to a major new report into digital media habits.
According to the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism’s annual digital news report, 35 per cent of people avoid the news in the UK ‘often or sometimes’, saying that coverage of Brexit in particular negatively affects their mood and makes them feel powerless to affect events.
News avoidance soared in the UK between 2017 and 2019, by 11 percentage points, with the report’s authors mentioning people feeling “boredom, anger or sadness” over Brexit as a particular cause. Worldwide, of 75,000 people from 38 countries who were interviewed, 32 per cent said they now actively avoid the news, with 58 per cent of people who avoid the news doing so because it has a negative effect on their mood. Whether news avoiders or not, overall 39 per cent of people think that the news media are too negative.
The new issue of Positive News magazine, out on Wednesday, demonstrates how journalism can engage people differently. Its cover story, United Kingdom of Solutions, seeks out some of the inspiring people who are driving progress in the UK today and explores what can be learned from them. From Birmingham to Belfast and from environmentalism to social cohesion, it zooms in on the people unearthing solutions to the challenges facing society.
“Glued to the mainstream media”, writes editor Lucy Purdy in the introduction to the 18-page focus, “you would be forgiven that the UK has become a pretty despondent place. From Brexit chaos to an under-pressure health system, knife and gun crime, social division and inequality, there is certainly plenty to improve upon.
Glued to the mainstream media, you would be forgiven that the UK has become a pretty despondent place. But this isn’t the whole story
“But this isn’t the whole story. There are the gutsy grassroots leaders shaking up local democracy in the south-west, the passionate people challenging stereotypes in the north and the nature-lovers who think London can become a world-leading green city. In the Midlands, there are those who are motivated to unite cultures and religions and, in Northern Ireland, entrepreneurs who believe that technology can shape society for the better. Wales is carving out a reputation for socially-progressive policies, while Scotland is boldly making inroads into tackling inequality.”
“The UK needs a new narrative,” said Positive News publisher Sean Dagan Wood. “While the press must continue to report problems, cover political crises such as Brexit, and hold power to account, there is also a need for constructive stories about how and where progress is happening in response to social and environmental issues.”
Now, Positive News would like to hear from its readers in the UK about the signs of progress where they live or work. Whether a community project, social enterprise, policy or person that’s successfully tackling a particular challenge, or other positive developments that fall under the radar of the mainstream news agenda, the magazine is inviting readers to get in touch to share their findings via email or by using the hashtag #UnitedKingdomofSolutions on social media.
The UK needs a new narrative. While the press must continue to report problems, there is also a need for constructive stories about how and where progress is happening
Wood said: “The Reuters Institute report shows that people are increasingly fed up with the negative and narrow news agenda. Our readers, including our print magazine subscribers and those who support our journalism online via a regular financial contribution, are empowering themselves with our solutions-focused stories. Now we’re inviting them to give voice to the progress they see where they are, so that people can share an alternative view of the UK. There’s no doubt the country faces some huge challenges, but this is only part of the story and we’re asking for their contributions to uncover what’s going well, too.”
What progress and solutions do you see where you are in the UK? Share your thoughts via email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by messaging us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram by mentioning @PositiveNewsUK and #UnitedKingdomofSolutions
The new issue of Positive News magazine is out tomorrow (Wednesday 3 July). Subscribe now to get your copy
Image: Diego Ph