News sources and emotional responses to COVID-19 news: Findings from U.K. news users
Keywords:news, emotions, Covid-19, health news, journalism
Existing research has begun to document some of the troubling links between COVID-19 news consumption and emotional and psychological well-being, but precisely which sources of news are more likely to be related to such phenomena is still relatively unknown. Given the greater likelihood of encountering disinformation, rumour and other content of dubious origin via interpersonal networks (e.g., friends and family) on social media, we might assume that this is liable to spark greater confusion, fear, panic, anxiety and other negative emotions in comparison to, say, mainstream media. But through a nationally representative survey of U.K. news users we show that, on the whole, there were no significant statistical or practical differences in audiences’ emotional responses to the news between those who rely on social media as their primary source for COVID-19 news, and those who rely on other sources of news. Rather, we observe similarly high levels of negative and positive emotional responses for all types of news source. Findings are discussed in light of ongoing debates around news sources, emotions and public health.
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