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29 July 2021

Ofcom: Newspapers Top Source For Helping Public Navigate Pandemic

Newspapers are one of the top media sources for helping the public navigate the coronavirus pandemic, with the Guardian rated by its readers as the best source for helping respondents understand the lockdown restrictions, ahead of all other broadcast, print and radio outlets including the BBC.

Ofcom’s News consumption in the UK report published this week, found that the public ranked social media as the worst source for news and information about the pandemic, while local and national newspapers and TV were the best.   

Newspapers (69 per cent) were rated as the second best source for providing news about Covid-19, just behind TV (73 per cent) but ahead of radio (59 per cent), social media (41 per cent), other websites or apps and magazines (both 66 per cent).    

Similarly, newspapers (68 per cent) scored highly for helping respondents understand the Covid-19 restrictions, just behind TV (72 per cent) but ahead of radio (56 per cent), social media (38 per cent), other websites or apps (62 per cent) and magazines (59 per cent).     

Looking at individual news brands, the Guardian was rated by its readers as the best source for helping respondents understand the Covid-19 restrictions (82 per cent), ahead of broadcast, print and radio outlets including BBC TV (76 per cent) and the BBC website/app (79 per cent).

The title was rated similarly highly by respondents for providing news about Covid-19 (79 per cent), just behind the BBC website/app (82 per cent).

People are increasingly using different sources for news with people consuming an average of 2.3 news brands in 2021 compared to 1.9 in 2020.  

Those who use social media for news are less likely than last year to get their news from social media posts and instead are more likely to get their news directly from newspaper websites or apps.

On Facebook, the number of people seeking out news brands for news – as opposed to relying on posts from friends and family - had risen on last year.

Social media ranked low for trust with just 33 per cent of respondents ranking social media as a trustworthy source of news, less than half of the score for printed newspapers (67 per cent).

The figures for accuracy showed a similar trend with double the number of people (66 per cent) saying news from newspapers was accurate compared to just 33 per cent from social media.

The same number of people rated news from newspapers as high quality and said it helped them understand what was going on in the world today.

Children aged between 12 and 15 said that newspapers (88 per cent) were more important to them as a news source ahead of TV (85 per cent), radio (69 per cent) and social media (70 per cent), just behind other websites (89 per cent).

Newspapers were also deemed by children to be the top source for helping children understand what’s going on in the world and offering a range of opinions.