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Australians accessing more news than usual during COVID-19 pandemic

MEDIA RELEASE: 6 May 2020: A new report from the News and Media Research Centre at the University of Canberra has found that the social distancing measures put in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a surge in news consumption while Australians spend more time at home.

UC researchers surveyed 2,196 Australians aged 18 and older to find out how and where they were getting information about COVID-19, which sources they found trustworthy and what impact the intense news coverage has on their wellbeing.
COVID-19: Australian news and misinformation found that 60 per cent of those surveyed are either very or extremely concerned about the COVID-19 outbreak, which is driving news consumption, with 71 per cent of respondents saying their news consumption has increased during the pandemic.

Overall, Australians are accessing more news than usual, particularly women and young people. More than two thirds (70 per cent) of Australians say they are accessing news more than once a day since the COVID-19 outbreak.

However, the report also shows that Australians are tired of news about COVID-19 and are avoiding it due to news fatigue. Half of respondents (52 per cent) say they feel tired of hearing about COVID-19 and 46 per cent say they find the news coverage overwhelming.

Lead author, Associate Professor in Communication Dr Sora Park, says the news coverage is impacting on people’s wellbeing.

“We found that while news about the coronavirus provides an important topic of conversation, it is also making 52 per cent of respondents feel more anxious,” said Dr Park.

“Women are more likely to feel an increase in anxiety because of COVID-19 news than men, and compared to older generations, Gen Y and Gen Z are more likely to say news about the coronavirus makes them feel more anxious.”

The report found that Australians trust scientists and health experts the most as sources of information about the coronavirus (85 per cent), followed by the government (66 per cent) and in news (53 per cent).

The full report can be accessed here.


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