News consumption habits influence attitudes towards COVID-19, Newhouse study finds

By Wendy S. Loughlin

July 31, 2020

Professor Makana Chock and doctoral student Se Jung Kim published their findings in Partecipazione e Conflitto

Makana Chock
Chock

American consumers of far-right conservative news sources were less likely to view COVID-19 as a health threat than consumers of other news.

That’s according to a study conducted by Newhouse School professor Makana Chock and doctoral student Se Jung Kim. Their findings were published in Partecipazione e Conflitto (Participation and Conflict), an international journal based in Italy.

Analyzing responses to an online survey conducted last spring, Chock and Kim found that respondents who learned about the coronavirus from partisan conservative news sources were significantly less likely to view it as a threat than those who cited far-left, center-left or center-right news sources.

“This may be because U.S. conservative news downplayed the threat of the virus in the early stages of the pandemic,” Chock says.

Perceived risks posed by the coronavirus strongly influence people’s willingness to comply with risk prevention measures, the researchers found.

The study, “U.S. Audiences’ Perceptions of Covid-19 and Conservative News Frames,” was published this month.  

Chock will participate in this fall’s virtual convention of the New York State School Boards Association (NYSSBA). She will discuss media influence on the public’s approach to the pandemic.