Do novel routines stick after the pandemic? The formation of news habits during COVID-19

Marcel Broersma*, Joelle Swart

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    4 Citations (Scopus)
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    Over half of our news use is comprised of habits: routine behavior that is firmly ingrained in people's everyday life. Conversely, citizens who have not taken up news in their daily routines rarely form novel patterns of news use. Yet, we know surprisingly little about how news habits come into being, especially in real-life situations. Previous research suggests that considerable life changes and disruptions in daily routines can give rise to the adaptation or formation of habits. This paper asks how and to what extent citizens created novel patterns of news use or adapted existing news routines during the COVID-19 pandemic. Connecting insights from social psychology to journalism and audience studies, it analyzes which affective, social and contextual cues stimulate or hinder news habit formation. Employing a questionnaire with open-ended questions with 1293 Dutch news users, we identified 5 groups of news users whose news habits each demonstrate a different response to the COVID-19 pandemic: news avoiders, followers turned avoiders, stable news users, frequent news users and news junkies. In-depth follow-up interviews with these users (N = 22) show that differences in users’ everyday context, social cues, levels of stress and anxiety, and affective cues may explain these different behaviors.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)551-568
    Number of pages18
    JournalJournalism Studies
    Issue number5-6
    Early online date7-Jun-2021
    Publication statusPublished - 2022

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