Selective News Avoidance: Consistency and Temporality

Kim Andersen*, Adam Shehata, Morten Skovsgaard, Jesper Strömbäck

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Can news avoidance be considered a stable personal “trait,” adhering to a specific group of consistent news avoiders, or is it rather a volatile “state” reflecting temporal variations in audience practices? Based on a five-wave panel survey collected in Sweden during the coronavirus pandemic, we show that selective avoidance of news about the pandemic varies both between persons, representing consistency, and within persons, representing temporality. Drawing on the information utility model, we additionally show that both dimensions are related to audience preferences, specifically news interest, news media trust, and societal concerns. These results illustrate that the practice of selective news avoidance is not restricted to a specific group of people with limited news use but also represents a more fluid audience behavior of adjusting news consumption patterns in response to individual and contextual changes. However, as the correlates of the two dimensions are similar, the results stress the polarizing potential of news avoidance in democracy
Original languageEnglish
JournalCommunication Research
ISSN0093-6502
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 25. Jan 2024

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