Wednesday, September 26, 2007


Grazing gets a bad rap. Let's face it, we all graze certain content: the TV news, dull conversations with family, memos from our boss. A couple of scholars looked specifically at news grazers, who they defined as people who watch the TV news with a remote in hand, ready to switch around when a story of little interest appears on the screen.

Yeah -- been there, changed that channel.

(btw: I didn't know the first remote, from Zenith, was called Lazy Bones. That's funny.)

Men graze more than women. Grazers are less likely to read the newspaper and, indeed, they are more likely to avoid any hard news of any type: local, national, international. As is now kinda obvious, grazers tend to know less about public affairs, at least as measured in the study. This makes sense. Inadvertent, haphazard exposure to news is simply not enough to be informed. What is not measured here is the difference between recall and recognition. Theoretically (yeah, I used the T-word), we would expect grazers to do better at recognition questions because they would have the answer on the tip of their tongue. Reading or carefully attending to the news would lead to higher recall scores (as is the case here).

The so what? Seventy percent of young people are grazers. They may feel informed through picking up bits and pieces here and there, from TV news or Jon Stewart or the web, but grazing doesn't lead to actually being informed. Grazing works well only for cows.

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