Since a year has passed for the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, many, if not all, aspects of everyday life had changed. In terms of the media and public platforms, all were affected by pandemic-related news as COVID took headlines, or as the broadcasted topics were affected by COVID, such as sports. Nearly 24/7 viewers turned on their televisions awaiting any updates. However, recent statistics reveal how viewer percentages have shifted from before and after the pandemic.
From March 2020, the initial US outbreak, around half of all American citizens watched and followed up with coronavirus-related news everyday, at around 57%. Comparing it to current data, statisticians revealed how political parties became a social divide, affecting how many people watched the news. In the early 2020 data, there was not much divide between numbers of Democrats and Republicans. Approximately half of the viewers were Democrats (53%) and the other half were Republicans (48%), two numbers which are too similar to distinguish. However, in November 2020, after US’s summer wave, 47% of viewers were of the Democrat party while 28% of viewers were of the Republican party. This divide intensified as time passed and due to other politically-driven reasons. The political parties began to show split since the summer of 2020 and continued to winter 2021, though they were no signs at first.
Pew Research Center has conducted several studies to not only calculate viewership parties but also to the reason behind such numbers. One survey asked the general public if they thought the coronavirus pandemic was overstated, understated, or portrayed accurately. Approximately 34% of people said the pandemic was exaggerated while 23% of people said it was understated. 43% of the surveyed adults agreed that the pandemic was handled somewhat right.
When another survey was conducted in March 20201, giving people a year worth of reflection, the results showed a distinguishable split of opinions between the two political parties. 60% of Republicans and GOP leaners claimed the pandemic was exaggerated compared to the 12% of Democrats and leaners. For the opposite side of the spectrum, 34% of Democrats said the pandemic was downplayed while only 9% of Republicans agreed as well.
42% of the whole US population said the US did a sufficient-enough job at handling this pandemic, in contrast to the 56% of Americans who argued that the country failed to do its job. For Republicans specifically, 7 out of 10 said the nation did as much as they could. For Democrats, they showed reversed numbers saying that 79% of Democrats said the government proved to be inadequate compared to the smaller 19% who said otherwise.
Now, according to the March 2021 survey, both sides of the political spectrum has shown decreases in viewership numbers for coronavirus-related news. This could be a result from the long-lasting pandemic becoming more familiar to the general public, compared to the first outbreak which left everyone in a state of panic and shock. Additionally, more news is searched by online articles and convenient social media platforms rather than a news cast broadcasting. Multiple studies has also shown how the sudden intake of heavy pandemic-related news have shown significant mental distress on viewers. While some may see the pandemic coming to an end with increased vaccination, the news will always be there to inform us just in case.