A year of news mocktails

“Organizations will also have to move beyond the boozy hit of reporting on Trump’s latest tweets.”

Next year will be the year of digital detox. At the end of 2020, Zoom fatigue is everywhere. Articles abound on how anxiety and distraction have undermined individuals’ capacity for deep thought. Doomscrolling has taken over many people’s evenings.

2021 will see a confluence of factors that could dramatically decrease screen time and news consumption. As Covid vaccines roll out in 2021, in-person gatherings will increase. The New York Times and The Washington Post experienced a “Trump bump” in their subscriptions after the 2016 election; there may be a “Biden sliding” as some tune out with a Democrat in the White House. Tired of the constant drama of the past four years, many people may embark upon the news equivalent of a dry January.

News organizations and journalists will have to account for these changes. They’ll have to figure out how to reach people who consumed news for the past four years out of fear about what the Trump administration would do next. Organizations will also have to move beyond the boozy hit of reporting on Trump’s latest tweets. Instead, they might think about the news equivalents of “mocktails.” This could be more investigative reporting on long-term issues that matter like educational gaps after Covid. Or it could be a focus on figures and issues beyond White House intrigue.

Many voters for Biden expressed relief that they would not have to worry about the president’s actions every day. But that change will also push news organizations to move beyond White House politics and find ways to report that reach people who care about the American polity, now more than they worry about the president.

Heidi Tworek is an associate professor of international history and public policy at the University of British Columbia.

Next year will be the year of digital detox. At the end of 2020, Zoom fatigue is everywhere. Articles abound on how anxiety and distraction have undermined individuals’ capacity for deep thought. Doomscrolling has taken over many people’s evenings.

2021 will see a confluence of factors that could dramatically decrease screen time and news consumption. As Covid vaccines roll out in 2021, in-person gatherings will increase. The New York Times and The Washington Post experienced a “Trump bump” in their subscriptions after the 2016 election; there may be a “Biden sliding” as some tune out with a Democrat in the White House. Tired of the constant drama of the past four years, many people may embark upon the news equivalent of a dry January.

News organizations and journalists will have to account for these changes. They’ll have to figure out how to reach people who consumed news for the past four years out of fear about what the Trump administration would do next. Organizations will also have to move beyond the boozy hit of reporting on Trump’s latest tweets. Instead, they might think about the news equivalents of “mocktails.” This could be more investigative reporting on long-term issues that matter like educational gaps after Covid. Or it could be a focus on figures and issues beyond White House intrigue.

Many voters for Biden expressed relief that they would not have to worry about the president’s actions every day. But that change will also push news organizations to move beyond White House politics and find ways to report that reach people who care about the American polity, now more than they worry about the president.

Heidi Tworek is an associate professor of international history and public policy at the University of British Columbia.

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