Survey: National Outlets Top COVID-19 News Sources

The largest number of respondents to a recent study said they rely on national news outlets for information on the pandemic. Of those, 83% said those national outlets have done “very” or “somewhat” well in covering news on COVID-19. 

That is according to a Pew Research Center survey of sources of news about the pandemic. 

Source: Pew Research

Source: Pew Research

The survey, of 10,139 U.S. adults conducted April 20-26, found that 26% rely on national outlets, 185 relay on local news outlets and the same percentage on public health organizations and officials, with 16% saying they rely on President Trump and his White House task force. Rounding out the rest of the list were state and local officials at 9%, international news outlets, friends/family/neighbors and online forums or discussions tied at 4%, community newsletters or list serves 1%, and former Vice President and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and his campaign at under 1%. 

Those who said local news was their top source overindexed for racial and ethnic minorities, with 45% of those nonwhite adults (25% Hispanic, 16% black). 

The vast majority of the 16 percent who rely on Trump and his task force for information don't trust the media. According to the survey, only 24% say coverage has been largely accurate, while 72% say journalists are "exaggerating the risks of the virus." 

And they suggest that coverage has consequences. Asked whether they thought the media was helping the country with their coverage, 21% said yes, but 61% said they were "damaging the nation." 

The margin of error for the survey is plus or minus 1.5 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.