COVID-19 coverage has dominated the media cycle for the past month, at a time when TV viewership and online news traffic have surged as increasing numbers of Americans seek out regular updates on the outbreak while isolating at home.
According to new analysis by the Pew Research Center, the media’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic is capturing mostly high praise from the public, even while newsrooms across the country have been hit by closures and budget cuts as companies affected by the crisis scale back their advertising budgets.
Pew’s report, which assessed Americans’ opinions regarding the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, found that overall, more than half of those surveyed (54 percent) think the news media have done a “good”—if not “excellent”— job of responding to the coronavirus outbreak.
When broken out into what media platforms Americans use for political and election news content, however, much of the public rated the media’s response to the crisis even more favorably.
More than two-thirds of those who get their news primarily from network TV (68 percent) said they think the news media is doing a “good” or “excellent” job covering the crisis.
Among Americans who mainly get their political and election news from print sources, two-thirds (66 percent) similarly gave the media’s performance “good" or “excellent” marks.
Those who rely on websites or apps for their news were evenly divided, with 50 percent reporting approval and 50 percent casting disapproval.
|Americans who get their political and election news across a variety of media platforms were asked to rate the news media’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.|
On the other hand, Americans who get their news from radio or social media were far less likely to express a positive opinion regarding how the media have covered the outbreak.
Only 47 percent of radio listeners held a favorable view of the media’s handling of COVID-19, with 53 percent of radio listeners characterizing the media’s coverage as “poor” or “only fair.”
Those who rely primarily on social media for their news gave the media the lowest COVID-19 response approval (41 percent), with more than half (58 percent) of these respondents claiming that the news media were doing a “poor” or “only fair” job of handling the crisis.
More than half of U.S. adults (57 percent) claimed they’re following COVID-19 news coverage very closely, while an additional 35 percent said they’re following news about the virus fairly closely.
Among respondents who identify as Democrat or Democratic-leaning, 68 percent believe the media are doing a good or excellent job covering the crisis, while only 37 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning respondents are likely to believe this.
The survey also discovered that older Americans are more likely than younger adults to have a positive impression of the media’s coronavirus response.
Pew’s analysis was based on a survey of more than 11,500 U.S. adults. Data for the report was compiled as part of the nonpartisan think tank’s Election News Pathways project, a yearlong research initiative that seeks to understand how Americans are getting their news in the months leading up to the 2020 election. Surveys were conducted between March 19 and March 24.