Covid-19 news and information: consumption and attitudes

17 December 2021

As a response to the Covid-19 outbreak, Ofcom is providing a range of information about how people are getting news and information about the crisis.

In late March, we commissioned an online survey of around 2,000 people every week. This continued until week 14 of lockdown (in June), at which point we moved to monthly surveys. Week 76 is the final survey for 2021. We also provide key findings from other datasets such as BARB and ComScore.

We are publishing this under our media literacy duties, as part of our Making Sense of Media programme. This work furthers our understanding around the access, consumption and critical engagement with news at this time, recognising that habits may intensify or change given the nature of the crisis. For pre-Covid-19 news consumption and attitudes, please see our News Consumption Survey.

Given the increased concern about misinformation during this time, we are also providing information about fact-checking and debunking sites and tools.

Results from July - September 2021

Previous results

Week 76

Week 72

Week 67

Week 63

Week 59

Week 55

We have also published the following analysis:

Effects of Covid-19 on TV viewing (April 2021) (PDF, 238.1 KB)

Children's News Consumption Survey: Covid-19 March 2021 key findings

As part of our 2021 News Consumption in the UK study, we asked around 500 12-15-year-olds about their use of, and attitudes towards, news content across different platforms during the Covid-19 pandemic between 24 November and 7 December 2020. We asked another 500 12-15 year-olds about their use of, and attitudes to, news content between 27 February and 24 March 2021 as the Covid-19 pandemic continued.

  • In March 2021, as in November/December 2020, 93% of 12-15s said they accessed news and information about the coronavirus ‘in the last week’.
  • On average, 12-15s were using 4.6 sources for news about the coronavirus in March 2021.
  • Family (55%), BBC TV (35%), friends (32%) and ‘school or teacher’ (32%) remain the most used sources for news and information about the coronavirus among 12-15s.
  • Compared to November/December 2020, in March 2021 for news and information about the coronavirus there were increases in use of BBC TV (35% compared to 27% in November/December 2020), official bodies like the WHO or NHS (16% compared to 9% in November/December 2020) and social media sources (53% compared to 39% in November/December 2020).
  • 63% of 12-15s agreed that there was too much in the news about coronavirus in March 2021, up from 54% in November/December 2020.
  • 66% of 12-15s agreed that they found it hard to know what was true and what was false about coronavirus, consistent with November/December 2020 (62%). Those who mostly or completely rely on people they know for news about coronavirus, including on social media, were more likely to agree with this (76% agreed) than those who mostly or completely rely on the media or official sources (62% agreed).
  • In March 2021 we asked 12-15s whether they relied on the media and official sources or people they know (such as friends or family), including on social media, for news about coronavirus. 45% said they relied completely/mostly on media or official sources, 28% relied equally on media and official sources, and people they know, and 27% relied completely/mostly on people they knew - all consistent with findings in November/December 2020.

Week 51

We have also published the following analysis:

Effects of Covid-19 on TV viewing (March 2021) (PDF, 398.8 KB)

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