Finding new ways to reach news avoiders

The existing media ecosystem suits news junkies relatively well, but it fails a huge number of casual consumers. This failure is a massive market opportunity, one that’s becoming easier to see as we hurtle toward a new year.

One of my final segments on CNN’s “Reliable Sources” was about the exhausting nature of the modern news cycle and the resulting rise of “selective news avoidance,” a term highlighted by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism.

The issue isn’t new. Outlets like Nieman Lab have been writing about news avoiders for years. In the United States, some people who rarely keep up with the news like it that way, perhaps to protect their own sanity. And another subset, mostly on the right, shun America’s main news sources and opt into an alternative media system that supplies very little reporting but lots of rage bait. But a great number of other Americans are reachable with thoughtful new approaches to storytelling and distribution.

Think about the way a typical day-of news story is constructed: If you’re not steeped in the most recent developments, it seems to start in the middle rather than at the beginning. Headlines, push alerts and social posts also tend to favor the news junkie over the grazer. There are sound business reasons for this — but it leaves a terrific amount of space for new businesses to emerge. And in 2023, they will. Let’s make it harder to avoid the news and a whole lot easier to get caught up.

Brian Stelter, former anchor of CNN’s “Reliable Sources,” is the Walter Shorenstein Media and Democracy Fellow at Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy.

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