Factsheet: News consumption patterns and misinformation perceptions during the COVID-19 crisis in the UK
Dr. María Victoria-Mas is Assistant Professor of journalism at the Universitat Internacional de Catalunya in Barcelona, Spain. Her research focusses on media consumption and audience perceptions. As a Charlemagne Prize Fellow 2019/2020, she aims to present new approaches on how Public Service Broadcasters (PSB) can foster audience trust and engagement in order to preserve democratic stability, especially focussing on political settings.
This factsheet draws the attention on news consumption during the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK. A factsheet on news consumption during the pandemic in Spain can be found here. It analyses how these trends may be promoting misinformation and affecting some key democratic outcomes such as media and political trust. It thereby explores the interactions between news consumption, misinformation credibility for the audience and trust in political and media institutions, using data from a two-wave survey fielded from 21 ro 27 April 2020 and from 21 to 26 May 2020. The study uses a sample of English opt-in panelists recruited by YouGov.
The report shows that:
- News consumption increased during the two first months of the Covid-19 crisis in the UK
- Online news access was mainly mobile, but still through the digital editions of legacy outlets
- Social media was the second main access door to news, but just 13.8% of the sample used them to that end
- More than a half of the sample found a great amount of potential false news, but they also reported that they have some media and digital literacy habits that should make them able to discern what is trustworthy information
- Most of the sample was able to discern false and true facts about the spread of Covid-19 during the two months after the lockdown began in
the UK. However, some false claims about the pandemic and its management, most of them spread by credible and political sources and/or with a partisan intention, gained credibility for relevant percentages
- Scientists, Health authorities, the World Health Organization (WHO), and the Public Service Broadcasters (PSB) are the information sources trusted by most of the sample
- The performance of democratic institutions during the two first months of the crisis was negatively assessed by most of the sample