In this report, we use survey data collected in late March and early April 2020 to document and understand how people in six countries
(Argentina, Germany, South Korea, Spain, the UK, and the US) accessed news and information about COVID-19 in the early stages of the global pandemic, how they rate the trustworthiness of the different sources
and platforms they rely on, how much is information they say they encounter, and their knowledge of and responses to the coronavirus crisis.
We show that:
- News use is up across all six countries, and most people in most countries are using either social media, search engines, video sites, and messaging applications (or combinations of these) to get news and information about coronavirus.
- In all six countries, people with low levels of formal education are much less likely to say that they rely on news organisations for news and information about coronavirus, and more likely to rely on social media and messaging applications. In Argentina, South Korea, Spain, and the US, young people are much more likely to rely on social media, and in Germany, the UK, and the US, to rely on messaging applications groups.
- In every country covered, very high numbers of people across age groups, levels of education, and political views rate scientists, doctors, and other health experts as trustworthy sources of information about coronavirus. Three-quarters of respondents trust national or international public health organisations, a majority of respondents rate news organisations relatively trustworthy, and in every country apart from Spain and the United States a majority rates their national government trustworthy as well.
- While levels of trust in scientists and experts are consistently high, and levels of trust in ordinary people are consistently more limited, there are significant political differences in trust in news organisations and in the government, especially in the United States, where people on the left of the political spectrum trust news organisations much more than they trust the government, and people on the right trust the government much more than they trust news organisations.
- When asked how trustworthy they find news and information about coronavirus from different platforms, most respondents rate platforms less trustworthy than experts, health authorities, and news organisations. Results vary significantly across different types of platforms – averaged across the six countries, the ‘trust gap’ between information from news organisations and information from social media is 33 percentage points, between news and video sites 30 percentage points, and between news and messaging applications 35 percentage points. The gap is 14 percentage points on average between news and search engines.
Direct to Full Text Report
36 pages; PDF.