Why the youth avoid newspapers and TV

Youths of Kipsaiya in Elgeyo-Marakwet County read the Daily Nation newspaper.

Youths of Kipsaiya in Elgeyo-Marakwet County read the Daily Nation newspaper on February 26, 2019. There is a decline in readership by young people compared to their seniors. 

Photo credit: Jared Nyataya

What you need to know:

  • Trust in news is tremendously reduced because people are avoiding news due to focusing on bad and negative news.
  • The media present us with stories about the events, and the stories are constructed by journalists who are influenced by processes and constraints much like fiction.

Ever since political campaigns started for this year’s general elections, Kenyans have been glued to the press.

People want to see screaming news headlines while serious readers are attracted to the opinion pages.

However, there is every reason to believe that the youth are not interested in current news.

There is a decline in readership by young people compared to their seniors. 

The annual Digital News Report produced by the Reuters Institute at the University of Oxford makes an insightful read on global digital media trends.

It reveals that the consumption of news among the youth is in decline. The report has a Kenyan part.

Negativity

Trust in news is tremendously reduced because people are avoiding news due to focusing on bad and negative news like wars, famine and diseases.

The grand question is, why are younger people avoiding news?

The answer seems to lie in the trend of people feeling overwhelmed by information. We cannot process it all.

We feel fatigued and look for ways to reduce the exposure. People only want to seek out news that is relevant to them.

People still do not understand what news is.

Myths

The public believes some myths about the media and when the expectations that follow from these myths are not met, the public becomes disappointed and turns off the news.

The first myth is that news is actually what happened. The second myth is that the journalist is objective.

In Kenya, the consumption of traditional news media products such as newspapers and television has declined.

The youth form over 90 per cent of the audiences that access news from online sources including social media, with the smartphone remaining the primary device of choice.

The study says that overall trust in news in this country is at 57 per cent – only six out of 10 Kenyans trust the media.

However, this survey showed that Kenyan audience trust in the press remains high compared to other African nations.

If you were to ask someone how news differs from entertainment programming, most people would say that entertainment is fiction and therefore made up by writers but news presents actual events that happened. 

But when we take a closer look at the news, it becomes clear that news does not reflect reality.

Instead, it is a construction by journalists. The media present us with stories about the events, and the stories are constructed by journalists who are influenced by processes and constraints much like fiction.

They should instead interrogate campaign issues and raise awareness around political entities and their manifestos. 

Due to the pressing nature of news, younger audiences are avoiding the news because it triggers negative feelings – a sense of hopelessness and helplessness. 

Kurgat Martin, Eldoret

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