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.
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.
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.
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.
- Factsheet 1: News media broadly trusted as source of coronavirus information, views of UK government response highly polarised. Published on 5 May. Survey in the field on 24-28 April 2020.
- Factsheet 2: UK public opinion polarised on news coverage of government coronavirus response and concern over misinformation. Published on 28 April. Survey in the field 10-14 April 2020.
- Factsheet 3: Initial surge in news use around coronavirus in the UK has been followed by significant increase in news avoidance. Published on 19 May. Survey in the field on 7-13 May.
- Factsheet 4: Trust in UK government and news media COVID-19 information down, concerns over misinformation from government and politicians up.Published on 1 June. Survey in the field 21-27 May 2020.
- Factsheet 5: Even low news users say they are willing to take preventive measures against COVID-19. Published on 18 June. Survey in the field 4-10 June 2020.
- Factsheet 6: Social media very widely used, use for news and information about COVID-19 declining. Published on 30 June. Survey in the field 18-24 June 2020.
- Factsheet 7: Majority think UK government COVID-19 response worse than other developed countries, almost half say response too focused on protecting the economy. Published on 14 July. Survey in the field 2-8 July 2020.
- Report: Information inequality in the UK coronavirus communications crisis. Published on 23 July.
- Factsheet 8: News Avoidance in the UK Remains High as Lockdown Restrictions Are Eased. Published on 28 July. Survey in the field 16-22 July 2020.
- Factsheet 9: Consistent and Widespread Belief in the Threat of COVID-19 to the UK Economy. Published on 11 August. Survey in the field 30 July to 5 August.
- Factsheet 10: Most in the UK say news media have helped them respond to COVID-19, but a third say news coverage has made the crisis worse. Survey in the field 13-19 August 2020.
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 www.nuffieldfoundation.org.