In Brief: Americans Avoid the News; Employees Desire 4-Day Workweeks

June-July 2024
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Feeling Misinformed, More Americans Avoid News Altogether, Study Finds

A recent University of Michigan study finds that Americans are more likely to avoid the news altogether because they perceive news sources as untrustworthy. 

“For a lot of people, public discussion about misinformation … and the amount of information that comes out from so many different sources, drives them away from news,” said Ariel Hasell, the study’s lead author and an assistant professor of communication and media. Paradoxically, the more information that’s available, “the more people just opt out because it becomes too hard for them to make sense of it.”

Besides turning people away from news outlets, “News avoidance also includes people avoiding discussing politics with others,” Hasell said. Some people are “stepping out of the conversation completely.”

News avoidance and fatigue increased leading up to the 2020 presidential election, the researchers found.

“Ten years ago, 20 years ago, 30 years ago, we had a higher trust environment” in general, Hasell said. But today, “trust in mainstream news is declining.”

Employees Name Four-Day Workweek as Most Desired New Benefit, Survey Finds

In a recent survey, 64% of employees said they wanted a four-day workweek, their most desired benefit in addition to their current slate of offerings. In the Bank of America survey only 42% of responding employers said they’d like to offer a four-day workweek.

Workers remain concerned about inflation and the cost of living. They cited better compensation as the top factor that could lure them away from their current jobs. Still, 70% of respondents plan to stay at their company for the next year.

Some 60% said they would stay with an employer that offers work/life balance, compared to 53% who would stay for compensation. Employees value their personal time and beyond a certain point may be unwilling to trade it for more money.

Four-day workweeks remain exceedingly rare, however. An Indeed analysis found the share of job postings that mention four-day workweeks rose from 0.1% in September 2019 to just 0.3% in September 2023.

Livestream Video Game Platform Twitch Becoming Novel Source for News

Twitch, a popular app for livestreaming video games, is becoming a source for news, researchers at the University of Oregon have found

Established news organizations and digital-age influencers are finding creative ways to draw users who expect to participate in news coverage, said Maxwell Foxman, an assistant professor at the university’s School of Journalism and Communication. 

Foxman and his co-researchers discovered “novel relationships between live-streaming, entertainment and reporting” on Twitch that require unusual journalistic methods but might help content creators engage audiences and earn revenue through donations. 

The researchers said Twitch users relish communicating with one another via a text-based chatroom. Thus, content producers and audiences analyze news together in real-time, as both sides contribute content or sources. 

Besides being popular with viewers, host-audience interplay also helps content producers and news providers build public trust on social media. “Games and the news may seem like they are disconnected, but often economically, socially or culturally, they interact,” Foxman said.

Bystanders Increasingly Use Smartphones to Livestream Dangerous Situations

When four police officers were killed attempting to serve a warrant in Charlotte, N.C. on April 30, Saing Chhoeun was in his garage next door and used his smartphone to livestream the standoff between officials and a wanted man. 

As the Associated Press reports, the deadly shootout also illustrated how bystanders increasingly try to livestream their perspectives of dangerous situations on social media. 

In the digital age, the “new responsibility of the bystander” is to record what’s happening on their phones, said Karen North, a professor of social media at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. 

Rather than fleeing from danger, shooting a cellphone video has “become sort of a social norm,” she said. “It used to be, ‘If you see something, say something.’ Now, it’s, ‘If you see something, start recording.’”

Survey: Most Members of Gen Z Say They’re Happy

About three-quarters of Gen Z Americans — the children and young adults born between 1997 and 2012 — say they’re “very happy” (25%) or “somewhat happy” (48%), new research from the Gallup-Walton Family Foundation finds. In a survey of 12- to 26-year-olds, about half always feel that their life matters, while an additional 28% often feel that way.

About a quarter of respondents say they are not happy. Roughly another quarter of Gen Z’ers surveyed do not consistently feel that their life matters. About half often feel anxious and approximately 20% often feel depressed.

Among Gen Z respondents who report being happy, a majority (60%) engage in something interesting every day. This data suggests that finding and participating in daily activities that are stimulating, motivating or important could be a reliable path to happiness for Gen Z. 

However, a substantial portion of survey respondents (42% to 49%) report not feeling purpose in their daily activities or getting enough sleep or relaxation, indicating areas for potential improvement.

Why ‘Stress Bragging’ at Work Doesn’t Impress

Complaining or bragging about how stressed you are might make you seem less competent and likable to your co-workers, a new study suggests.

In a survey, researchers at the University of Georgia Terry College of Business compared statements from fictional co-workers who had just returned from a conference. Participants rated their imaginary co-workers on likability, competence and the probability that they would help those co-workers on the job.

One colleague described the conference as “just one more thing on my full plate,” and said “you have no idea the stress that I am under.” Participants rated that colleague as significantly less likable and less competent than others who praised the conference. The study participants also said they would be less likely to help the complaining co-worker when that person is overburdened.

Jessica Rodell, the study’s lead author and a professor of management at the University of Georgia, said employees who “stress brag” spread stress to their co-workers in a contagious effect.

Return to Current Issue Culture & Well-Being | June-July 2024
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