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The UK COVID-19 news and information project analyses how the British public navigates information and misinformation about coronavirus and about how the government and other institutions are responding to the pandemic.

It is based on an ongoing online panel survey of representative sample of the UK population, and data on news supply from the most popular UK news outlets. 

This first part of this page presents some of the data from the online panel survey. The second part of this page displays data from the content tracking. 

Survey data

The survey was designed by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford to collect data on how people navigate news and information during the coronavirus pandemic and was fielded by YouGov. Starting in April 2020, ten waves will be fielded at two-week intervals. The survey is a mix of tracking questions and specific questions fielded only in some waves. More information on the methodology can be found here.

News use


Content tracking

In addition to a representative panel survey, the project has been gathering data about the supply side of information by running a daily collection of the top ten most read stories from BBC News Online, MailOnline (‘News’ section), and the Guardian, as well as using CrowdTangle to collect data on social media engagement with each of these stories over the first 24 hours.

Such “Most Read” lists cannot be representative of all news coverage, and are compiled in different ways by different organisations. But they still provide at least a top-line sense of what news people are reading and engaging with from some of the main online news sites in the UK. Similarly, CrowdTangle does not capture all kinds of social media engagement but does give a top-line sense of the level of engagement with some of the top stories from these online news sources

The trackers below visualise some of this data to provide a glimpse of how engagement with COVID-19 related news coverage of three key UK outlets has developed over time. The trackers are in the beta phase of development, and we welcome feedback on how to modify or improve the measures.

COVID-19 related news coverage

We track the proportion of the top ten most read news articles across BBC News Online, MailOnline, and the Guardian that are focused on COVID-19, starting on 12 April. This provides an indication of the prominence of COVID-19 news stories in relation to other coverage. The chart is updated on a daily basis.

Social media engagement with news coverage

We track the total number of social media interactions (likes, shares, comments, etc.) via select social platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Reddit) with the top ten articles from the three outlets, BBC News Online, MailOnline, and the Guardian starting on April 12. 

The data is gathered the day after the articles were published using CrowdTangle’s API access, and includes interactions with each story on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Reddit captured by that monitoring platform for articles in each site's top ten. In addition, we report the percentage of total social media interactions for stories with a COVID-focus specifically. These charts are updated on a daily basis.

Please note that the chart below shows the number of interactions with the top ten most-read stories listed by each website. These are not necessarily the stories that receive the most interactions on social media. The purpose of the chart below is to provide an indication of how many people engage with these stories on social media, and not the total amount of social media interaction that each news outlet receives.  


More on the project

The UK COVID-19 news and information project analyses how the British public navigates information and misinformation about coronavirus and about how the government and other institutions are responding to the pandemic. Our research began in April 2020 and will initially run for eight months. We’ll be publishing data from our survey in several factsheets along the way, and separate reports with more in-depth analysis. Here you can read what we’ve published so far.

Funding acknowledgement

The Nuffield Foundation is an independent charitable trust with a mission to advance social well-being. It funds research that informs social policy, primarily in Education, Welfare, and Justice. It also funds student programmes that provide opportunities for young people to develop skills in quantitative and scientific methods. The Nuffield Foundation is the founder and co-funder of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics and the Ada Lovelace Institute. The Foundation has funded this project, but the views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily the Foundation. Visit