Opinion 

The information drain

Simon Read

Simon Read

The more shares and views a story has, the more it gets pushed to the top of the page.

The net result is that the sites many people turn to for news are led by lurid or titillating tales. The real news, or stories that may be of more useful interest, tend to get buried down the page, which means most readers never even notice them.

It is an example of what I think of as the information drain: even though we all have access to much more information than ever online, we tend to read much less.

Or to put it more directly, we read more about entertaining things that are shareable and practically nothing that actually might be useful.

You could make the same accusation about print publications, but the fact is that when flicking through the pages to your favourite sections, your eye is often drawn to a completely random story. It may be a little news in brief piece, shoved down the page, halfway through the paper.

In my experience it is these random stories that often prove more interesting and can lead you on to fresh thoughts and knowledge.

But I guarantee that you or anyone else are unlikely to encounter these types of stories online, even though they are published there.

That is because you will struggle to wade through the raft of tittle-tattle and celebrity-gazing that makes up the bulk of online news sites to find these little titbits of gold.

I know that the many staff who work at the FCA do read the newspapers – I have plenty of experience of that from when they have contacted me to correct a story or find out more about it.

Ms Morgan’s question was actually just an attempt to insult the regulator – but it is a question that is worth thinking about.

The less we read newspapers the less informed we will all become, I believe. That is particularly true about financial information. Twice in the past few days readers have contacted me to complain about topics I have not covered.

In both cases I have covered the topics regularly – they just have not bought the publications to see the coverage.

In short, if you do not bother to read newspapers, I reckon you should. You will be better informed as a result.

Simon Read is a freelance journalist