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Scholars are invited to submit contributions for this ICA pre-conference on news avoidance co-sponsored by the ICA's Political Communication and Journalism Studies divisions. Abstracts (max. 500 words) are due by 27 January 2023 (submission link below).

Organisers

Research examining news avoidance has increased considerably over the last five years in journalism studies and political communication as well as among those who study audiences, technology, and mass communication. There are also indications that the COVID-19 pandemic and other circumstances have been associated with a rise in news avoidance in multiple countries (Newman et al. 2022). However, news avoidance as a concept has been defined in a variety of ways (intentional or unintentional, habitual or situational, universal to all topics or domain-specific) and we still know little about the mechanisms behind its different forms nor its possible consequences on an informed citizenry.

Even less is known about how resistance to news relates to other audience phenomena such as compulsions around consuming large quantities of news at all hours (also known as “Doomscrolling”, Ytre-Arne & Moe, 2020)—practices that the contemporary media environment may facilitate. This pre-conference seeks to bring together scholars on these subjects to shed light on the diverse ways that people consume—and especially avoid—news. The goal is to consider definitions, what predicts these behaviours in different countries and media environments, various expressions/manifestations of news avoidance as well as its possible societal and political consequences.

The pre-conference invites theoretical and empirical contributions (qualitative or quantitative) that either: 

  • Aim to define news avoidance, contextualise it in relation to other audience behaviours, or differentiate it from related concepts such as media resistance, selective exposure, or low news use
  • Focus on socioeconomic predictors or psychological mechanisms behind how people relate to and (dis)engage with news
  • Shed light on the ways distributed digital pathways (e.g. social media, search engines) affect people’s relationships with news seeking or avoidance
  • Explore the consequences of news avoidance on important variables for the democratic process such as political knowledge and political participation
  • Aim to understand how news avoidance relates to misinformation, conspiracy theories, knowledge resistance and more broadly distrust or discontent
  • Examine these practices from a comparative perspective, with a particular focus on the Global South and countries with low levels of press freedom
  • Investigate how news organisations and journalists are responding to changing audience behaviors and what measures they are taking to bring audiences back in
  • Study news avoidance behaviour among a specific group (e.g., young adults, women, low social class) or a specific topic or context (e.g. Covid-19, national elections, war)
  • Explore news avoidance using an innovative methodological approach (e.g. experimental, eye-tracking, observation, computational)