18 May 2020

Probing the polls: a return to footy, and COVID-19 news overkill

| Genevieve Jacobs
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Newspaper and digital media have been filled with little other than COVID-19 coverage. Photo: File.

As the economy re-opens, so do sporting fields, clubs and cafes in a limited and cautious progress towards business as usual. But many RiotACT readers aren’t completely convinced that we’re ready to go the whole way just yet.

Our test case for this week’s poll was the NRL’s plans to return to competition within the next fortnight as the League argues that they’ll take a raft of precautions. Proponents say the League will ensure all COVID-19 quarantine and health measures are maintained, that community spirits will be lifted and that the employment generated by the game is also a positive.

But many of you weren’t convinced in our weekly poll. Our question was: Should the NRL resume competition on May 28? A total of 956 people voted.

Your options were to choose Yes, we’ve flattened the curve, let’s get moving. This option received 31 per cent of votes or 299 in total.

Alternatively, you could choose No, sport is not essential and we all need to stay the course. This option was the clear winner, with 69 per cent of the total, or 657 votes.

This week, we’re wondering whether the volume of COVID-19 news, views and conflicting opinions has been all too much for you.

A new report from the News and Media Research Centre at the University of Canberra has found there has been a surge in news consumption, and that 71 per cent of respondents say they’re reading and watching more news since the pandemic started.

The survey found this has driven the way news of the pandemic has been reported, with a nine-fold increase in the number of fact-checks related to COVID-19 between January and the end of March.

A separate study into the spread of misinformation found that most of the fake news (88 per cent) appeared on social media.

Many of you thought that informative news remained critically important. “We are now in the re-opening theatre. We need a focus on the data showing the actual risk to different age/health cohorts. Continuing to chase clickbait about this is not a viable strategy for media,” said one reader.

Alan Rose said: “Unfortunately we live in a 24 hour 365 day a year media state and like the recent bush fires the COVID-19 news is rammed down our throats every minute of the day. I don’t watch the news anymore, it’s too depressing.”

But David O’Shea pointed out that “if we weren’t informed, people would be complaining that we weren’t told enough. Whinge when there is news Whinge when there’s none”.

Our question this week is about fatigue, fake news and overkill. We’re asking:

Are you consuming more news or less during the COVID-19 crisis?

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