Media must engage with readers, embrace personalisation to combat news avoidance

By Amelia Labovitch


Antwerp, Belgium

News avoidance has been on the rise worldwide, especially with the major events of the past few years like COVID-19 and the war in Ukraine.

Essentially, intentional news avoidance occurs when people deliberately turn away and avoid the news. Selective news avoidance on the other hand, is when a person remains engaged, however, they choose to limit or completely remove exposure to certain types of news.

For digital publishers, news avoidance is becoming an increasingly common problem, resulting in decreased reader engagement and revenue. These are some of the reasons for news avoidance along with five strategies to help keep readers coming back to your digital publications.

Reasons for news avoidance

Reuters identified six reasons for news avoidance in its 2022 Digital News Report. We have categorised these into two main categories: trustworthiness and disinterest.


In 2021, there were positive signs for the news industry. Yet, a year later, a less optimistic picture emerged.

News consumption declined, trust fell, and news fatigue set in. The rise of false and misleading news has not helped with increasing users’ trust of the news. Trust in the news has fallen in nearly half the countries Reuters surveyed, with Finland having the highest trust (69%) and the United States the lowest (26%). On average, only 42% of the sample reported trusting the news most of the time.

Looking specifically at different generations, Pew Research Center identified that for those aged 18 to 29, half say they have some or a lot of trust in the information they get from social media sites. Local news sources are trusted most of all with 62%.

Across generations, local news sources are the most trusted, but the level of trust has decreased from 85% to 71% since 2019.


Reuters found that, across the global market, interest in news has declined due to a few reasons.

  • Repetition: Many respondents feel as though the news is rather repetitive, especially around certain topics like politics, COVID, and the war in Ukraine (43%). With the ongoing access that we have to the news via different channels, it can often feel like we receive the same story multiple times.
  • Decrease in mental health and overall mood: This repetitiveness also contributes to people feeling worn out by the news in general. This contributes to news fatigue, which is psychological exhaustion due to information overload from any form of media, though it is generally from news media and social media.
  • Arguments: Depending on the news source, the story being discussed can be biased to spark conversations or spread a specific message. This type of discourse can cause confrontations that people would rather avoid, should they not agree with the other. To avoid these types of confrontations, people avoid the news to remain neutral on a potentially charged topic.
  • Irrelevance: A significant portion of younger and less educated people avoid the news because it can be hard to follow or understand. This can lead to feeling as though the news is irrelevant to them. This could also explain the rise in turning to social media, where content is in short digestible clips, compared to written articles.

How to combat news avoidance

News avoidance is a topic to be further researched. However, we have identified five key actions digital publishers can implement to help combat what is already known.

  1. Offer a variety of content: By offering content in different formats and topics across different channels, readers are more likely to find something that interests them. This could include articles, videos, podcasts, and even interactive content.
  2. Focus on quality: Quality content is key to keeping readers engaged. Create content that is well-written, well-researched, and engaging. If readers feel content is not worth their time, they are more likely to avoid it.
  3. Keep content updated: It is important to keep readers informed about current events and topics. This can be done by regularly updating content, posting timely articles, having time stamps on articles, and providing links to relevant news sources.
  4. Engage with readers: Take the time to respond to comments and questions. This not only shows your readers that their opinions are valued, but it also helps create a sense of community.
  5. Embrace personalisation: Personalisation of news can be a powerful tool in helping to overcome news avoidance in a few ways. First, by providing information that is tailored to users’ interests, preferences, location, or other factors, people are more likely to engage with the news and stay informed. This can be achieved through the use of technology specialising in algorithms for this purpose. Second, personalisation can also help combat fake news and filter bubbles. With machine learning technology and algorithms, these problems can be detected and attacked using specific algorithms that enhance the diversity of articles and show a greater catalog of articles.


News avoidance has become a worldwide phenomenon, with people from all over opting to step away from news sources. While it is understandable that news avoidance can be helpful in reducing stress and anxiety, it is important to understand that it can lead to missing out on key global and local developments.

As consumers, we must find a balance between staying informed and being overwhelmed. Within the news industry, it is important to understand how the content created impacts consumers and consider what technology exists to help reduce the chance of news avoidance.

Ultimately, putting the focus on the reader will win out.

About Amelia Labovitch

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