How news found the avoiders: the changing news routines of infodemically vulnerable young people in England during Covid-19

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Abstract

This article examines how young people in England who experience social inequality consumed news during the Covid-19 pandemic. Described as "infodemically vulnerable" due to their reliance on social media for news and low trust in news organisations, I draw on 25 interviews to consider if this underresearched population was exposed to harmful information during the first national lockdown. Contrary to fears, participants maintained a constant awareness of essential Covid-19 information throughout this period. They used substantively different consumption practices as the lockdown progressed. Initially, interviewees turned to trusted information from broadcast media news, replacing their dependence on social media. This was short-lived, as participants later avoided television news due to its impact on their wellbeing and frustrations that coverage did not relate to their lived experience. The paper demonstrates how structural factors, like age and inequality, can act as catalysts for selective news avoidance. Avoidance, however, did not result in interviewees missing critical updates. They adopted a "News Finds Me" perception, whereby individuals remained informed indirectly through relatable information from trusted contacts received on private messaging applications. This article shows the conceptual overlap between news avoidance and a News Finds Me perception.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournalism Studies
Early online date30 Jan 2024
DOIs
Publication statusEarly online - 30 Jan 2024

Keywords

  • Covid-19
  • Inequality
  • News avoidance
  • News finds me
  • News consumpion
  • Young people

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