Reuters: COVID-19 Ups Consumer Consumption, Trust of News Reporting

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has increased consumer confidence in and consumption of news reporting on television and the Internet, including social media platforms, according to new data from Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism.

Before the COVID-19 crisis hit, more than half of survey respondents in six countries (U.K., U.S., Germany, Spain, South Korea, and Argentina) said they were concerned about what was true or false on the Internet when it came to news.

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Domestic politicians were singled out as the single most frequently named source of misinformation, though in some countries — including the U.S. – people who self-identify as right-wing are more likely to blame the media, with Facebook seen as the main channel for spreading “fake news.”

Over the past nine years, Reuters has found online news overtaking television and print as the most frequently used source of news. The virus crisis has significantly changed that picture. Data from surveys conducted in early April found respondents gravitated toward traditional TV for coverage of COVID-19 more so than other topics, including politics and global warming.

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TV news saw an uplift in all six countries polled separately in January and April. Germany saw a 12-point decline in reach for TV news reversed as people turned to the medium for virus-related news, including public service announcements.

“Journalism matters and is in demand again,” Nic Newman senior research associate, wrote in the report.

The use of online and social media for news has significantly increased in most countries, according to Reuters. WhatsApp saw the biggest growth in general with increases of around 10% in some countries, while more than 51% of respondents used some kind of open or closed online group to connect, share information, or take part in a local support network.

Reuters also found that trust in media doubled for social networks, video platforms and messaging services when it came to the virus and economic shutdowns. Across all countries surveyed, 28% turned to a website or app for their news. Respondents 18 to 24 years old preferred accessing social media. Indeed, use of Instagram for news has doubled since 2018 and looks likely to overtake Twitter through 2021, according to the report.

“Facebook [which owns Instagram] and other social media groups are now used on average by 31% of respondents for local news and information,” Newman wrote.

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