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Traditional media remains most-used news source for Covid-19 says Ofcom

Posted on: July 8, 2020 by Mariella Brown

Among adult internet users, traditional media sources (broadcasters, newspapers, radio) remain both the most-used and most important source of news and information about the pandemic, a report by Ofcom states.

Nearly nine out of ten adult internet users (87%) turn to traditional media as a source of Covid-19 information, statistics from the end of June show.

Those turning to social media for coronavirus news has decreased from half of users (49%) at the start of the lockdown to 37 per cent in the latest survey.

The broadcast watchdog Ofcom has been conducting news consumption studies throughout the pandemic. The latest research took place from June 26-28 (week 14) with week one taking place just after the Prime Minister had announced lockdown measures (March 27-29).

The survey showed over eight in ten people (85%) were still accessing news about Covid-19 at least once a day in June – but this has declined from 99 per cent of respondents in week one.

The way readers engage with news saw a change as lockdown measures and the direct severity of the crisis began to ease in June.

Around a third of respondents (32%) said they are ‘trying to avoid news about the coronavirus’ compared to 22 per cent in week one. As in previous weeks, more than four in ten of those aged 25-34 were most likely to say they are avoiding news about the coronavirus (46%).

Additionally, most respondents (75%) continue to think that ‘this crisis is showing some positive sides of society’ – citing more community spirit and support for the NHS.

Ofcom also published a separate report about misinformation during the pandemic.

In week 14, almost one in three respondents say they have come across false or misleading information about Covid-19 in the last week (29%). This is down from a peak of half of respondents in weeks three and five.

Graphic courtesy of Ofcom

Again, the most common piece of misinformation respondents came across in the last week (from a select list) is ‘theories linking the origins or causes of Covid-19 to 5G technology’.

However, there had been a decrease in the proportion of respondents coming across this, from 50 per cent in week three when it was first asked, to 21 per cent in week fourteen.

The report added that while people have come across less misinformation over time, younger people are more likely to see it compared to older age groups.

The complete findings are available on Ofcom’s website and the misinformation report can be read here