Commentary

Most Americans Say News Media Provides Good Coverage Of COVID-19

The coronavirus pandemic has captured the attention of Americans, who tend to say the news media has done a good job of covering the growing health crisis, Pew Research Center found in a surveyconducted March 10-16.

During that period, the federal government and local authorities escalated their response to the outbreak. The United States imposed limits on air travel from Europe, while many states and municipalities ordered the closure of public gathering places, such as schools, restaurants, bars, theaters and concert venues, among other measures.

The number of confirmed cases in the U.S. surged from 650 to more than 3,000 during that period.

About half of U.S. adults (51%) said they're tracking news about COVID-19 "very closely," while another 38% said they're following it "fairly closely," Pew Research found. Some 70% of respondents said they think the media has covered the outbreak either "very" or "somewhat" well.

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At the same time, most Americans think the media has exaggerated the risks of the coronavirus -- a disturbing finding considering the infections are still growing exponentially nationwide. It's clear from pictures shared on social media of spring breakers reveling on Florida beaches or crowding into Nashville barsthat many Americans don’t perceive coronavirus as a threat -- especially to young adults.

Pew found that 62% of U.S. adults think the news media have either "greatly" or "slightly" exaggerated the risks of the coronavirus, while 30% said journalism outlets have "gotten the risks about right."

Another 48% of respondents said they've seen some made-up news about COVID-19. It's not clear where people saw the fake news, but it's easy to imagine that content-sharing platforms, like Facebook and YouTube, have been too permissive in allowing misinformation to propagate.

They're among the tech firms that this week said they're jointly"combating fraud and misinformation about the virus" -- an utterly laughable claim. 

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