From Doom-Scrolling to News Avoidance: Limiting News as a Wellbeing Strategy During COVID Lockdown

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Journalism Studies, 2022, 23, (3), pp. 302-319
Issue Date:
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As Australia imposed some of the world’s strictest COVID-19 lockdowns, governments and mental health organisations released advice for preserving mental wellbeing throughout the pandemic. One common suggestion was to avoid excessive news consumption. This article reports findings from a study that explored why, how, and with what outcomes people engaged in news avoidance practices. We conducted interviews with 20 participants from the Australian state of Victoria which experienced the country’s most sustained lockdown measures. Our data shows that people restricted their news consumption for a range of wellbeing-related reasons. Avoidance practices were shaped by household contexts and involved strategies for remaining informed to a limited degree. These findings contribute to an emerging evidence base that points to the benefits of partial news avoidance. They also reiterate the value of public health advice that suggests limiting news during a crisis. We go on to argue that the prevalence of news avoidance practices during long-term crises raises significant practical implications for news organisations.
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