News coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to dominate the media cycle, but Americans’ opinions regarding the media’s handling of the outbreak have generally turned more favorable, according to analysis recently released by the Pew Research Center.
Pew’s study found that the number of Americans who currently believe the media exaggerates the risks associated with the outbreak now stands at 48 percent, a decline of 14 percent from Pew’s previous findings in March (62 percent).
Americans’ perceptions regarding whether the media have conveyed the coronavirus’ risks truthfully remain divided, however, and typically that division lies along partisan lines. While only 30 percent of respondents identifying as Democrat or Democrat-leaning currently believe the media has exaggerated the risks of the outbreak (compared to 49 percent in March), the dial hasn’t moved nearly as much for Republicans, 68 percent of whom still believe the media exaggerates the risks of COVID-19 (a drop of only eight percent from the 76 percent of Republican respondents who said this in March).
|Democrat respondents were more likely to exhibit a favorable change in their views regarding whether the media has exaggerated the risks associated with COVID-19 than Republicans.
Overall, Pew’s analysis discovered that Americans approve of the media’s coverage of the pandemic, with more than two-thirds (69 percent) of respondents saying they believe the media have covered the outbreak very well—or at least somewhat well—a number that’s virtually unchanged from previous Pew findings in March (70 percent). More than half (59 percent) additionally said they think the media are providing them with important COVID-19-related information, compared to about a quarter of Americans (24 percent) who disagree. About half of respondents (49 percent) also believe the media’s coverage of COVID-19 has been largely accurate, compared with 24 percent who think it’s been mostly inaccurate.
Once again, however, respondents’ political leanings appear as a clear indicator in influencing their perceptions regarding the media’s accuracy and overall performance in covering the COVID-19 pandemic. While about eight-in-ten Democrat and Democrat-leaning voters think media have covered COVID-19 somewhat or very well, only slightly more than half of Republican and Republican-leaning voters (54 percent) believe this. And while two-thirds of Democrats (66 percent) think the media’s COVID-19 coverage has been largely accurate, less than half that number of Republicans (31 percent) agree.
Pew’s analysis was based on a survey of more than 10,100 U.S. adults drawn from the nonpartisan think tank’s American Trends Panel, a nationally representative list of randomly selected U.S. adults. Data for the report was compiled as part of the nonpartisan think tank’s Election News Pathways project, an ongoing initiative that seeks to understand how Americans are getting their news in the months leading up to the 2020 election. Surveys were conducted online between April 20-26.