What’s the result of someone not reading the story? What happens if the story gets lost in the mess or if people ignore the headline?
What if, one day, the news just stopped? – If all the reports of horror and disasters and political and business corruption streaming endlessly from Washington and London and Hollywood and Moscow and Damascus somehow became trapped and were no longer able to reach any of us… Would you be relieved?
In the human body, fatigue can lead to physical weakness as well as to mental decline. Fatigue makes us angry and fickle; it lowers our capacity for good judgment; and it can leave us vulnerable to making poor or improper decisions.
News fatigue may be having similar effects on the body politic, argues Ariana Tobin, an engagement reporter at ProPublica, an independent, nonprofit newsroom that produces investigative journalism on a range of topics including government and politics, business, and the environment.
In a recent post for NiemanLab, Tobin predicted that 2018 could see the news audience choose to turn away from the firehose of news pouring at them. The impact on news organizations would be profound, she noted.
“If we believe that an informed public is valuable, and that the way to inform the public is to have a strong, independent news media, then part of the equation has to be that people are going to pay attention to what that strong independent news media is saying,” Tobin tells CCC’s Chris Kenneally.
“What’s the result of someone not reading the story? What happens if the story gets lost in the mess or if people ignore the headline? [Journalists must] force ourselves to answer those questions every time. Because if [readers] start ignoring the really important news of the day, it’s going to shape how someone votes, or it’s going to change the way that an HR department fields harassment complaints at an office. It has a huge effect.”