News is part of the atmosphere now, as pervasive—and in some ways as invasive—as advertising. It finds us in airport lounges and taxicabs, on our smart phones and PDAs, through e-mail providers and Internet search engines. Much of the time, it arrives unpackaged: headlines, updates, and articles are snatched from their original sources—often as soon as they’re published—and excerpted or aggregated on blogs, portals, social-networking sites, rss readers, and customizable homepages like My MSN, My Yahoo, myAOL, and iGoogle. These days, news comes at us in a flood of unrelated snippets. As Clay Shirky, author of Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing without Organizations, explains, “The economic logic of the age is unbundling.” But information without context is meaningless. It is incapable of informing and can make consumers feel lost. As the AP noted in its research report, “The irony in news fatigue is that these consumers felt helpless to change their news consumption at a time when they have more control and choice than ever before. When the news wore them down, participants in the study showed a tendency to passively receive versus actively seek news.”
From "Overload" - a long article in last month's Columbia Journalism Review by Bree Nordenson.