Skip to main content

Pew Finds Generational Split in COVID News Appetite

Not only has the COVID-19 crisis exposed the digital divide, but apparently also a generation gap when it comes to how closely people are following news about pandemic.

That is according to the latest survey as part of Pew Research Center's Election News Pathways project. Pew's analysis was based on two surveys, one March 10-16 among 8,914 U.S. adults and a second March 19-24 among 11,537 U.S. adults.

Related: COVID-19 Coverage Spotlights Cable News Audience Divide

While 92% of the respondents as of late March said they were either fairly closely or very closely following news about COVID-19, older Americans are following it substantially more than the younger demos.

More than two thirds (69%) of Americans 65 or older are following the news very or fairly closely, while well under half (42%) of those 18-29 say they are. That could be lack of interest--which seems unlikely--or a defense mechanism against the drumbeat of frightening news.

But Pew found that between the first and second surveys, the increasingly "sobering news" about the pandemic--rising death tolls, shutdowns, sheltering--had little impact on how closely they were following the news.

The Pathways Project is Pew's effort to explore how American's news habits and attitudes affect their perception of the 2020 election.