News consumption and COVID-19: Social perception

Consumo de noticias y COVID-19: Percepción social

  • Pere Masip Ramon Llull University
  • Carlos Ruiz Caballero Ramon Llull University
  • Jaume Suau Ramon Llull University

Abstract

On 14 March 2020, the Spanish Government declared a state of alert for the first time since the reinstatement of democracy, confining millions of people to their homes in effort to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Amid emergency situations such as this, people need to be informed (Seeger et al., 2003). In light of this demand for information, the media responded by heightening the attention afforded to the pandemic and its news coverage, a phenomenon which has occurred repeatedly in similar situations (Ducharme, 2020; Pieri, 2018). Based on a survey of over 2,000 Catalan citizens during the period of lockdown, the main aim of this article is to analyse how the pandemic changed their information habits, gauge their perception of the media’s coverage and determine whether this coverage produced information overload. The results show an upsurge in media consumption as well as information overload among virtually half the population. This generates a paradox: despite the increased consumption of information, the media did not help to improve people’s understanding of the pandemic, but instead resulted in information fatigue, thus hindering comprehension.

 

Resumen

El 14 de marzo de 2020, el Gobierno español decretó el estado de alarma por primera vez en democracia, que confinó en sus hogares a millones de personas para combatir la pandemia de la COVID-19. Ante situaciones de alarma de este tipo, los ciudadanos necesitan estar informados (Seeger et al., 2003). Los medios responden a esa exigencia de información con un incremento de la atención mediática sobre la pandemia y de su cobertura informativa, fenómeno que se repite como constante en situaciones análogas (Ducharme, 2020; Pieri, 2018). A partir de una encuesta a más de 2000 ciudadanos de Catalunya durante el confinamiento, el presente artículo tiene como objetivos principales analizar si la pandemia modificó sus hábitos informativos, como percibieron la cobertura realizada por los medios y si se produjo sobrecarga informativa. Los resultados muestran un incremento del consumo informativo, así como sobrecarga informativa en casi la mitad de los ciudadanos. Ello genera una paradoja, a pesar de incrementar el consumo informativo, los medios no contribuyeron a mejorar su comprensión de la pandemia sino a generar una fatiga informativa que dificultó esa comprensión.

Palabras clave: consumo informativo; cobertura informativa; sobrecarga informativa; Catalunya; COVID-19.

 

DOI: https://doi.org/10.31637/epsir.21-1.3

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Published
2021-07-30
How to Cite
Masip, P., Ruiz Caballero, C., & Suau, J. (2021). News consumption and COVID-19: Social perception. European Public & Social Innovation Review, 6(1), 29-41. Retrieved from https://pub.sinnergiak.org/esir/article/view/149
Section
Research articles