Commentary

Fewer Americans Say News Media Exaggerates Pandemic

Fewer Americans now say the news media exaggerates the COVID-19 pandemic than they did in March, when many cities and states started lockdowns to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

The change in opinion likely indicates that more people are taking the health crisis seriously, a key development in containing the pandemic and reopening the economy.

The portion of U.S. adults who say the media have greatly or slightly exaggerated the risks of the coronavirus fell from 62% in March to 48% this month.

In the opposite direction, the share of respondents who said the media have gotten the COVID-19 risks about right rose to 39% from 30%, according to Pew Research Center.


The organization again found that political affiliation affects people's perceptions of news coverage of the crisis, with Republicans tending to be less trusting of the reports.
About two-thirds (68%) of Republicans and people who lean toward the party said the media slightly or greatly exaggerated COVID-19 risks, compared with only 30% of Democrats and people who lean left.
Some 54% of Republicans and independents who tend to be conservative said the media have covered COVID-19 somewhat or very well. That's much less than the 82% of Democrats and liberal-leaning independents who had a favorable opinion about the coverage.
The findings have implications for how news outlets cover the health crisis and the response from policymakers. Now that lockdowns are starting to lift in some states, the news media needs to remain vigilant about a possible resurgence in infections and other negative effects of the pandemic.

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