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Unpacking overload: Examining the impact of content characteristics and news topics on news overload

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The proliferation of digital media has provided the public with an abundance of information and pathways to engage with that information. Alongside the opportunities offered by this wealth of content exist feelings of, and worries over, news and information overload. Research has indicated that to respond to this issue, some news consumers proactively scan the news. When such activity fails, or in some cases before it ever begins, other news consumers disconnect from the news altogether. Through a non-random online survey, this study advances empirical understandings of the news overload and individuals' responses to that overload by proposing a more holistic way to measure news overload. By examining the ways in which content characteristics and news topics influence individuals' feelings of overload and how scanning or avoidance of and from the news may result, this study finds that information overload, and news overload more specifically, can be connected to the characteristics of news content and the topic of coverage.
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Keywords: information overload; news avoidance; news consumption; news overload; selective scanning; social media

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2019

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