Perhaps Italians experience a need to inquire and to be informed like never before: the insecurity due to the pandemic has generated a thirst for news and has also involved categories less interested in news and in media and information in general until now.
How do Italians face the flood of daily news characterized by confusing truths, fake news, theorems, hypotheses and rumours? Which media do they prefer to gather information from and form their own opinion about the health emergency? What do they think about the news coming from all the different channels?
Newscasts come first, but the future of information is online
The preferred media for information gathering about the Covid-19 health emergency are newscasts (33.8%) and online newspapers (22.3%). Printed newspapers rank third with 8.4% of preferences, immediately followed by talk shows and entertainment programs (8.3%) and social networks (8.1%), radio news rank behind them (5%), paper magazines and social chat (both at 2.8%), and influencers (1.6%).
Television news is the preferred information channel by the over-64s (48.3%) and 45-64-year-olds (31.7%), while very young people mainly use social media to get information (27.2%).
Talk shows and television in-depth news programmes are a preferential information channel especially for over-64s (10.5%), a result, coupled with the times TV News are watched on average, that makes this age group the only one mostly informed through television (58.8%); while the youngest group mainly use online channels (Social networks and online Daily News in total 62.1% between the ages of 18 and 24 years; 50.9% between 25 and 34 years).
Pandemic: Information is confusing
The quality assessment of the Covid-19 related information within all the different channels highlights its confusing aspects. The information conveyed by social networks is considered as the most confusing (40%), followed by the Government official communications, the Ministry of Health and Ministry of the Regions communications (36%) and finally the mass media News (28.3%). Mass media channels are also the ones most often considered capable of providing useful information (25%), followed by official communications (23.9%), but these are also the most accused of spreading alarmist news, with 22.8% preferences for this option (17.6% Social Networks and 12.7% official communications).
Italian people are convinced that the most truthful information about Covid-19 is conveyed by Institutions
Institutional communication is considered the most truthful (20.1%), concerning TV, radio, etc., the percentage of those who believe that they present reliable news goes down to 9.2% and for social networks it goes down further to 4.5% and are instead more often considered overwhelming (18.5%); 14.7% of the sample share the same feeling about mass media, while 7.3% about institutional communication.
Overall, Italian people are convinced that the most useful and truthful information about Covid-19 is the one conveyed by the Institutions (a total of 44%), followed by the one from mass media (34.2%) and, lastly, the one circulating on Social Networks (23.9%).