Survey: Local Media Considered Best Source for Vaccine Reporting

A close-up image of COVID-19
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Local news (TV, radio and print) is the most reliable source of news coverage "that provides expert testimony on the safety and efficacy of vaccination," according to a new study from the National Association of Broadcasters and the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute (RJI).

That comes as the country rolls out two COVID-19 vaccines, the overall efficacy of which in stemming the pandemic tide depends on a majority of people taking them.

The survey found that 60% of respondents said they intended to get the vaccine, while only 13% said they definitely weren't.

Also Read: NAB Applauds More Broadcast Bucks in COVID-19 Aid

The new reporting survey respondents were most interested in, not surprisingly, was on the safety and efficacy of the vaccines. They said that news outlets could encourage vaccinations by focusing on how they could reduce loss of life and help others.

The study found that the one of the best ways that those local media could help encourage people to get vaccinated is by reporting on "recommendations based on detailed reporting" rather than stories without such recommendations or journalists' personal stories about the pandemic.

Respondents preferred messaging that highlights concern for others, as in “Don’t put your family through the pain of losing you…” and, “Protect yourself, protect your neighbors… ."

Also Read: NAB, PBS Push for Early Vaccine for Journalists

“Since the pandemic’s early days, Americans have turned to broadcast radio and television for the most reliable news, to stay connected, learn how their communities are affected and find out what they need to do to remain healthy,” said NAB president Gordon Smith. “With these new survey findings, broadcasters will continue serving the public by sharing information that encourages people to stay safe and help our nation recover.”  

The study was conducted online by SmithGeiger Dec. 4-12 among 3,046 adults 18-64 who consume at least some news media once a week or more. The margin of error is plus or minus 1.8 percentage points.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.