Public Perception of Data Visuals in Media Coverage During COVID-19 Pandemic: The Risk Perception Model Revisited
AbstractThe aim of this research is to examine the role that data visuals in media coverage play on the risk perception of the public in times of a pandemic. The article reports findings from an online survey of 191 adults regarding the trajectory of the risk perception model during COVID-19 pandemic in Turkey. We focused on eight statements clustered into three groups as indicators of the risk perception when the public came across with the data visuals: (1) the level of anxiety, fear and panic arousals, (2) the level of lacking credibility and trust and (3) the level of impression regarding fatality, irreversible effects and catastrophic consequences. For the survey, we selected 24 data visuals, which attracted the most interaction from Facebook and Twitter accounts of the seven most popular news outlets. We asked respondents to score eight items for each 24 data visuals of COVID-19 news reports. The results suggest that the respondents find the data presented in visuals credible and trustworthy and they agree that the visuals depict risk elements in many cases. Implications of the low and high levels of risk perception regarding data visuals on media for the risk communication theory are discussed. Keywords: COVID-19, pandemic, risk perception, data visuals, survey.
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