The most common reason given for not watching the news, cited by 58% of respondents, is the lack of positive news. It's hard to disagree with this sentiment, as it's become increasingly rare to find positive stories in the media. However, there are news feeds such as The Good Things Guy and Feel SA that prioritise optimism and celebrate the good happening around us.
The second reason South Africans avoid news is the perception that it is overly influenced by politics, according to 53% of respondents. People naturally question whose agenda is being followed and the reliability of the news. Internet censorship in South Africa, particularly regarding hate speech, also raises questions about the freedom of speech.
Many South Africans feel anxious and stressed out by the news, with 43% of respondents saying they avoid it for this reason. This is understandable, given the daily challenges faced by South Africans, including load shedding, rising fuel and food prices, caring for a family, and witnessing poverty. It's possible that some South Africans have decided to focus on their immediate situation and stop worrying about issues that don't directly affect them.
Millennials are the next cohort of people who are more prone to shun news consumption, often citing a lack of time as the main reason. Unlike Boomers, who are more likely to tune in to the news regularly, millennials are less likely to believe that the news is typically negative, influenced by politics, untrustworthy, or of poor quality.
There's a lot happening locally and abroad, but many South Africans have decided that they would prefer to know very little or nothing at all about it. This "out of sight, out of mind" mentality may be due to a lack of faith in the media or a desire to avoid anxiety and stress. Regardless of the reason, it's crucial to stay informed about current events, particularly those that have a direct impact on our lives.