If you feel like there is too much news and you can’t keep up, you are not alone, according to the Pew Research Center.
A sizable portion of Americans are feeling overwhelmed by the amount of news there is, though the sentiment is more common on the right side of the political spectrum, according to a Pew survey conducted from Feb. 22 to March 4.
Key results from reporting by Jeffrey Gottfried and Michael Barthel, Pew researchers, show:
• Almost seven-in-10 Americans (68 percent) feel worn out by the amount of news there is these days, compared with only three-in-10 who say they like the amount of news they get.
• While majorities of both Republicans and Democrats express news fatigue, Republicans are feeling it more. Roughly three-quarters (77 percent) of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents feel worn out over how much news there is, compared with about six-in-10 Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents (61 percent).
• Feeling overwhelmed by the news is more common among those who follow the news less closely than among those who are avid consumers. While a majority of those who follow the news most of the time (62 percent) are feeling worn out by the news, a substantially higher portion (78 percent) of those who less frequently get news say they are fatigued by the amount of it that they see.
• Those less favorable toward the news media are also the most “worn out.” Eight-in-10 of those thinking national news organizations do “not too” or “not at all well” in informing the public are feeling exhaustion. This is somewhat higher than among those who say the news media do “fairly well” (69 percent), and much higher than for those who think news organizations do “very well” – of whom 48 percent say they are worn out by the news and 51 percent say they like the amount they see.
• Overall, 17 percent of Americans say national news organizations are doing very well at keeping the public informed of the most important national stories of the day, while 24 percent say they do not too or not at all well; the largest portion, 58 percent, say the news media do fairly well.
• Some demographic groups – most notably white Americans – are more likely than others to feel exhausted by the news. Nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of white Americans express fatigue with the amount of news, much higher than among both Hispanic (55 percent) and black Americans (55 percent). Women are also somewhat more likely than men to feel worn out (71 percent vs. 64 percent, respectively). Those ages 65 and older are slightly less likely than those who are younger to express a sense of exhaustion with the news.
If you’re not worn out by the numbers about being worn out, here’s the good news: Most Americans – 65 percent – say they follow the news most of time, whereas 34 percent say they follow only when something important is happening.
That means Americans, whether they admit it or not, have an appreciation for the importance of the media in our free society. Without a free media, we will not be free for long.
Writing in a column on this page today, former Indiana Congressman Lee H. Hamilton puts in perspective the responsibility media have to citizens and the responsibility people have to be news consumers – fatigue or not.
He states: “The plain truth is, there’s much to distract both journalists and citizens from what’s really necessary to cover and to understand. Sorting through all the information at our fingertips, distilling meaning from it, zeroing in on what’s really important: that’s work that both journalists and ordinary citizens have to undertake.