Who knows more… headline junkies or the news-free 22 per cent?

Perhaps I should have been one of the 22 per cent. They’ve got it sorted.

The 22 per cent don’t worry about President Trump gearing up to foul the US elections before they happen. They won’t fret about Trump rallying his supporters if he refuses to budge after losing in November.

They will be unconcerned by all the terrible things Trump says and does. Those sinister-looking federal security forces sent in to quell protests in Portland, Oregon, will not concern the 22 per cent.

The 22 per cent will not spit out their morning tea on learning of the dubious collection of people Boris Johnson has appointed to the House of Lords. Ian Botham should be remembered as a cricketer and the owner of a big mouth. He shouldn’t be in the Lords now or ever, but that’s where he’s headed, to the over-stuffed second chamber.

As for Johnson elevating his own brother, Jo, that surely is cronyism at its most nakedly outrageous. Or maybe not if you choose to ignore it.

None of this is to suggest that the 22 per cent don’t care. Perhaps they just find everything too distressing nowadays, and who can blame them. Even an addled old news junkie can sometimes pause to wonder where all this news leads us.

According to the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, news avoidance is on the rise. The institute is releasing a series of reports as part of its Covid-19 news and information project.

The eighth report, released on July 28, found that the 22 per cent now say they “always or often actively avoid the news”. It adds that “levels of news avoidance grew sharply in April and May”.

I still read the news on inky sheets. I watch the news on television. And I skim like a tossed stone across the surface of the news on Twitter.

I have written the news sometimes. Penned endless headlines, edited endless stories. Written features and columns. And bashed out more blogs than a normal person would consider doing.

Are we well informed know-nothings…

According to that Reuters survey, most of those who avoid news about Covid-19 say this is because “it has a bad effect on my mood”.

News of all shades can badly affect my mood, and yet there I sit on an uncomfortable stool at the news bar, daily swallowing another line of shots. Sometimes this habit leads to a headache, a news hangover caused by a surfeit of half-understood news.

This can lead the avid news watcher to feel that they are well informed and yet at the same time know nothing. Is that what we’ve become… well informed know-nothings who soak up the news and then wonder what it is that we have absorbed? This isn’t to get away from the tremendous amount of hard work that goes into providing all that news for us.

There is just so much news nowadays. If you glance over history, this can’t be because more things are happening now. It’s just that the means of production is so much more efficient, the world is so much smaller, and we can sit at home and peer into distance places on our flat-screen TVs.

News now is an uninterrupted flow, an endless supply of happenings that are reported and commented in a breathless rush that then passes over our heads.

I won’t be giving up anytime soon, but wonder sometimes what it would be like to do the news equivalent of Dry January. No-News November perhaps.

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