Date of Graduation

12-2021

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Journalism (MA)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Journalism

Advisor

Rob Wells

Committee Member

Ray McCaffrey

Second Committee Member

Gerald Jordan

Keywords

covid-19, journalism, news, pandemic, trust

Abstract

With the uncertainty and growing information surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, news media consumption has increased drastically compared to pre-pandemic consumption. At the start of the pandemic, 94% of Americans reported closely following COVID-19 news, with more than half of Americans spending more than two hours consuming COVID-19 news everyday (SSRS, 2020). With the news media serving as a critical source of information through this public health crisis, the public’s reactions, behaviors, and attitudes to the pandemic stem from the level of trust they have in the news media to share COVID-19 information. Because of this, this study examines trust in the news media and its possible impacts on public health. A survey of 314 individuals explored how trust in the news media varies with COVID-19 coverage on a national and local level and how trust and mistrust in the news media relates to an individual’s willingness to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Findings suggest that trust in the news media is lower with COVID-19 coverage compared to general news coverage, with many participants believing news sources exclude COVID-19 facts. When comparing trust in COVID-19 coverage between national and local news providers, trust was highest in local sources for the majority of participants. In general, the study found that individuals are more likely to be vaccinated if they have high levels of trust in the news media. The findings suggest that trust in news media is significant in navigating public health crises, as mistrust in the news media can lead individuals to undermine the efforts to end the COVID-19 pandemic.

Share

COinS