Too Much Information

TokyoThe Associated Press recently conducted a study of news consumption by young people which found that participants "showed signs of news fatigue; that is, they appeared debilitated by information overload and unsatisfying news experiences. ... Ultimately news fatigue brought many of the participants to a learned helplessness response. The more overwhelmed or unsatisfied they were, the less effort they were willing to put in." News nowadays, observes Bree Nordenson, "finds us in airport lounges and taxicabs, on our smart phones and PDAs, through e-mail providers and Internet search engines. ...Edward Hallowell, a Boston-area psychiatrist, believes many of us suffer from what he calls an attention-deficit trait, a culturally induced form of attention-deficit disorder." In an environment where people are bombarded with more information than they can possibly absorb, she argues, journalism needs to reinvent itself, not as the place where people simply obtain information, but as a source of "'people to assimilate, understand, and make sense of it.' ... The most valuable journalism is the kind that explains."