Mar 18, 2020 - Health

Media wrestles with public trust as coronavirus intensifies

Data: Axios/Ipsos survey, margin of error of ±3.2 percentage points; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

Roughly half the country says they don't trust traditional media, like cable TV and newspapers, very much or at all to accurately deliver information about the novel coronavirus, according to a new Axios/Ipsos poll. That number sinks even lower for digital media and online news companies.

Why it matters: While the government and health officials are able to provide important safety and procedural information about the virus, it's the role of the media to provide key research and analysis that enriches the public's understanding. The lack of trust in the media means society could be less informed.

Details: Of all of the institutions polled, most people feel as though health officials, followed by government institutions, are most likely to provide accurate information about COVID-19.

  • Of all government institutions, respondents by far feel that their state and local government officials are able to most accurately deliver information about the virus, more so than federal officials.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) are considered the most trustworthy information sources about the virus.

Between the lines: To no surprise, survey respondents have a deep distrust that the information they receive about the pandemic is accurate on social media. In total, nearly three-quarters (74%) of respondents said they don't trust social media very much or at all.

What’s next: This is the first installment in a new project — the Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index. It will be a weekly barometer of how the pandemic is affecting Americans’ health, finances, trust and quality of life. So stay tuned for more.

Methodology: This Axios/Ipsos Poll was conducted March 13-16 by Ipsos' KnowledgePanel®. This poll is based on a nationally representative probability sample of 1,092 general population adults age 18 or older.

  • The margin of sampling error is +/-3.2 percentage points at the 95% confidence level, for results based on the entire sample of adults.

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