- New study shows 45% of Americans think the media has overreacted to the coronavirus pandemic.
- Who do Americans trust the most for COVID-19 information? Just 7% say President Trump, 9% national news — while 43% turn to the CDC.
- One in four people admit getting into an argument with a friend or family member over their feelings on the virus or social distancing.
CHICAGO — Despite the depression and anxiety it creates, Americans just can’t get enough news during this pandemic. A recent survey asked 2,031 U.S. citizens about their news watching and consumption habits over the past few months, and the findings depict a nation glued to their television screens.
In all, 66% are watching and consuming more news than ever before, which is particularly puzzling considering that 68% also admitted that COVID-19 coverage gives them considerable anxiety. It’s not just anxiety either; 65% said they feel overwhelmed by coronavirus news, 56% just get plain angry, 67% feel burnt out, 59% experience fearfulness, and 50% can’t help but feel hopeless after hearing the nightly news.
The survey, conducted by Digital Third Coast, also found that while many Americans first became aware of the coronavirus in January of this year, it wasn’t a subject that troubled them until March. Since then, however, 50% of Americans have started seeking out COVID-19 news from different sources. For what it’s worth, the most popular news sources among respondents were local TV news (32%), CNN (28%), BBC (21%), local online news or newspapers (21%), ABC (21%), and Fox News (17%).
A considerable number of Americans (64%) are trying to find more trustworthy news sources, and 54% believe recent coronavirus coverage has caused a lot of confusion. Another 45% said that the media has overreacted to COVID-19.
Who, then, do Americans trust the most when it comes to coronavirus information? The top answer to that question was the CDC (43%), followed by the WHO (18%), national news (9%), President Trump (7%), and local governors / government (6%).
As far as political affiliations, more Democrats (76%) said they trust the news than Republicans (57%) or Independents (56%). Conversely, though, more Republicans (67%) find the daily White House press briefings useful than Democrats (32%) or Independents (36%).
Respondents were also asked to answer some questions on COVID-19 and other related topics, and many appear to be woefully misinformed. Only 40% were able to correctly identify Dr. Anthony Fauci, while 60% could ID Dr. Deborah Birx. Oddly, 13% even said that a coronavirus vaccine is now available.
At the time the survey was conducted at the end of last month, there were just over one million confirmed U.S. COVID-19 cases and 58,356 deaths. When asked about case counts and death rates, 51% said there were under 500,000 confirmed cases and 14% said there were less than 100,000. Similarly, 23% said there had only been 30,000 deaths and 14% answered that there had been less than 10,000 deaths.
What about the other big source of COVID-19 information — social media? Similar to the relationship between anxiety and news consumption, despite 69% of Americans stating that social media has done more harm than good during this pandemic, 40% admitted their logging on now more than ever. Facebook (49%) was the top platform among respondents for coronavirus news, followed by Twitter (25%), Reddit (14%), and Instagram (12%).
Furthermore, Americans are getting into more online confrontations on social media because of COVID-19. Just under one in four (24%) said they’ve argued with someone online about the coronavirus, and 21% said they’ve argued on social media about COVID-19 with a family member or friend. Another 20% have “unfriended” someone over their coronavirus beliefs and 15% have even unfriended a family member.
The full survey can be found here.