Many are just plain tired of the news, especially the GOP

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Remember the Camel News Caravan? Probably not, but it aired on NBC News from early 1949 to late 1956 and was named after a brand of cigarettes when they could be advertised on television.

The show was only 15 minutes long.

Chet Huntley in New York and David Brinkley in Washington, D.C., took over the show from John Cameron Swayze in 1956, renamed it the Huntley-Brinkley Report and expanded it to a half hour in 1963 a week after CBS stretched Walter Cronkite’s show to the same length. They were just in time for the Kennedy assassination, but that event warranted 24-hour coverage.

Jump ahead to 1980, and that half-hour news slot was expanded to 24 hours, with the debut of Ted Turner’s Cable News Network, CNN.

That’s a lot of news, but even then, it was fed to us by professionals who struggled to fill those hours with worthy stories delivered in a responsible manner.

Jump ahead a couple of decades, and we’re deluged with news, delivered in a variety of ways including social media, open to anyone with a Facebook or Twitter account and time to hit the “publish” button on their keyboard or touch-screen phone.

Is it any wonder, therefore, that the majority of Americans are feeling overwhelmed by the news?

That’s what Pew Research Center found in a survey Feb. 22-March 4.

Nearly 7 in 10 of us are suffering “news fatigue,” according to the research, especially Republicans and Republican-leaning independents (77 percent), compared to 61 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents.

Some 62 percent of those who follow the news most closely say they’re worn out by the news, but 78 percent of those who don’t follow the news as closely say they are fatigued by the amount of it they seek.

The study found that as distrust of the media increases, so does news fatigue. Eight in 10 of those who think national news organizations don’t do well in informing the public are feeling this fatigue, while about half of those who think news organizations do “very well” say they’re tired of news.

Overall, 17 percent of Americans say national news organizations are doing very well at keeping the public informed, 24 percent say not well and the largest portion, 58 percent, say the news media do fairly well.

The statistics aren’t all that comforting to those of us in the news business, but print journalists might like to offer a suggestion. Turn off the television and computer, and read your local newspaper for a briefer, more personal take on the day’s happenings.

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