“Because the News is Depressing as Hell”: Journalists’ Explanations of News Avoidance

Ruth Palmer*, Stephanie Edgerly

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


What journalists believe about the growing phenomenon of news avoidance will affect the way they address it. In this paper we use an iterative, mixed-methods approach to analyze responses to an open-ended survey question which asked US journalists why they believe people consume little to no news. Our data analysis consisted of 3-phases: an inductive close reading to detect initial patterns, a quantification of patterns through a word frequency analysis, and a final close reading. We find that journalists’ responses about why people avoid news fit into three main categories based on whom or what they identified as responsible for this behavior. Some of these sources of blame were much more common than others, and they were associated with different tones, ranging from condescending to sympathetic. The most common reasons supplied were those blaming news itself (e.g., news is negative or biased), followed by those blaming contextual factors (e.g., life circumstances or competition from social media), and those blaming news avoiders themselves. In the discussion, we compare journalists’ beliefs about the causes of news avoidance with findings from research on news avoiders themselves and explore implications for possible efforts to address news avoidance in the future.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalDigital Journalism
StateAccepted/In press - 2024


  • computational grounded theory
  • imagined audience
  • journalists
  • mixed methods
  • News avoidance
  • news consumption
  • survey

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication


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