Coronavirus News Fatigue Is Officially Setting In

When confronted with a tragedy that challenges we stay home the majority of the time, it’s only natural that many of us have resorted to reading the report.

Wired UK

This story originally appeared on WIRED UK.

Throughout March, we watched and channel-surf endlessly. The Guardian received 2.17 billion page panoramas, an increasing number of over 750 million on the previous record set in October 2019. Boris Johnson’s address to the nation on March 23 was one of the most-watched broadcasts in UK television history, with more than 27 million live onlookers, rivaling the 1966 World Cup final and the funeral of Princess Diana.

But now, as we enter week four of isolation, new chassis have emerged that seem to show that our interest in coronavirus content is waning. Research by NiemanLab, the primary journalism university at Harvard University, show that by March 9, one in every four sheet scenes on American news websites is currently in a coronavirus narration, and special topics was “generating the sort of attention in a week that the impeachment of Donald Trump did in a month.” Traffic peaked on March 12 and 13 with Donald Trump’s Oval Office address, Tom Hanks’ diagnosis, and the suspension of the NBA.

By the end of March this attention had declined, continuing its downward slope in the first week of April, before coming to pretty much normal levels this week. It seems we may have developed coronavirus news fatigue. But why has this happened? Could people actually be losing interest in such a disastrous happen? And what does this drop off mean for government strategy?

News fatigue is not new. Data from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism shows that, even before a interval where 1 happen dominates the story schedule, 24 per cent of people in the UK said they actively try to avoid the news. During Brexit, says Rasmus Kleis Nielsen, superintendent of the Reuters Institute, the above figures ripened to about a third.

There are three reasons for this general discomfort: the information leaves people feeling chilled; it also builds them feel powerless–viewers feel they cannot influence affairs; finally, the public time don’t trust the news–they see it as superficial, sensationalist and inaccurate.

“If you have a highly dim view of journalism, and journalism tends to report on some things that have gone wrong in the world yesterday, and if you’re not in a position to do anything about those things, it’s not really obvious why you would spend very much time with it, in particular once the first ripple of interest in a new crisis has passed, ” says Nielsen.

In expressions of the mental effects of engaging with this crisis specifically, studies are currently ongoing. But there is a close relationship between overconsumption of information and general increased suspicion. The World Health Organization specifically recommends tuning out the report if you change distressed. “We could take from that that beings may be listening to the advice, and that’s why we’re learn little traffic, ” says Cherie Armour, a professor of psychological trauma and mental health in the School of Psychology at Queen’s University Belfast. “There’s a penalty threshold between what is helpful anxiety and what crisscross the line.”

There is also a complex interplay between this anxiety and our commitment with the report. “From the very limited research which we have available–from “Hong kongs” in the H1N1 epidemic–people started out by being quite anxious, and then as duration gone on there anxiety actually was downed, ” says Richard Bentall, a professor of clinical psychology at the University of Sheffield. “That anxiety was a predictor of behavior with respect to the virus, and “its also” probably a predictor of interpret stuff in newspapers.”

People, justifies Bentall, tend to be classified into’ monitors’ and’ blunters’. The former tend to search for more information when uneasy; the latter tend to block it out. “This is speculation, but what we might be seeing is the population sorting itself out into these two different groups, ” he says.