Why Sift?

News anxiety:

We’re wired for it

More than two-thirds of people in the U.S. feel overwhelmed by today’s 24-hour news
Pew Research
A sizable portion of people in the U.S. are feeling overwhelmed by the amount of news there is, though the sentiment is more common on the right side of the political spectrum, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted from Feb. 22 to March 4, 2018.
So why do we keep coming back for more?
Our brains are wired that way—it’s called negativity
Psychology Today
What we do know is that our brains are naturally built to weigh and respond to negative information much more so than positive information.This concept has been termed the negativity bias and is wide-ranging, from our decision-making to our perception of ourselves and others.
Negativity bias helped prehistoric humans avoid danger.
Today, it’s why we’re so drawn to bad news, even though it stresses us out. And because negativity captures our attention, it’s easy to monetize.

Divided we stand

Our nation’s political polarization isn’t helping matters.
Today, 53% of people in the U.S. say they find it “stressful and frustrating” to have political conversations with people they don’t agree
People Press
A majority of people in the U.S. (63%) say that when they talk about politics with people they disagree with, they usually find they have “less in common” politically than they thought previously. Fewer than a third of people in the U.S. (31%) say they find they have more in common with people they disagree with politically.
Combined with the human tendency to look for evidence supporting our existing beliefs (known as "confirmation bias"), this means we're less likely to seek out points of view that challenge our assumptions.

An information explosion

Thanks to the Internet, the average person is exposed to a volume of information never before experienced in human history.
One study estimates that people in North America consume an average 10 hours of media each
North American media consumption is expected to increase by 1.8 percent this year to 612.4 minutes a day, compared with 601.5 minutes last year.
We’re nothing if not tuned in, and engagement-based revenue models perpetuate news anxiety and addictive media-consumption behavior by rewarding the stories that make us feel extreme
Tobias Rose-Stockwell
Many news organizations have adopted a traffic-at-all-costs mentality, pushing for more engagement at the expense of what we would traditionally call editorial accuracy.

Pause. Reflect. Consider.

Sift offers a break from the never-ending news cycle—a space where you can pause and think about the issues behind the headlines. Here’s how it works.
Build a knowledge base.
Sift goes beyond headlines and talking points. Dig deep into historical context: What isn’t being talked about? What voices aren’t being heard and why?
Reframe the narrative.
Sift’s goal is to surface ideas that move conversations forward. For instance: What does the enduring nature of these hot-button issues mean for our society?
Take time to think and feel.
Sift stories include frequent pauses for reflection or interactivity, to help you engage with issues, check your assumptions, and evaluate your emotions.
Challenge yourself.
Throughout each narrative, we’ve interspersed exercises that invite you to actively engage with the topics. As our editors like to say, “it’s a gym, not a spa.”
How can Sift help reduce your news anxiety?
Sift doesn’t just tell you what’s happening—instead, it helps you understand why and how we got here, and provides space to reflect, rather than simply react.
Research shows that mindful awareness can radically reduce anxiety. We believe that zooming out from the endless news cycle to consider the bigger picture helps reframe the conventional narrative. Sift aims to foster a calmer state of mind and invite more productive, less polarizing conversations.