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Assessing Media Literacy Levels among Audience in Seeking and Processing Health Information during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Journal: Media Watch (Vol.12, No. 1)

Publication Date:

Authors : ; ;

Page : 93-108

Keywords : Audience; health information; information overload; media literacy; misinformation; pandemic;

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Media plays a crucial role in information dissemination during significant social, economic, political events and crises, including epidemics. Public look upon the media for credible and authentic information during such times resulting in a surge in information seeking. In 1976, Sandra Ball-Rokeach and Melvin DeFleur proposed media dependency theory (Lin,2020). Audience dependency on the media increased with the rise in social conflicts, resulting in greater chances of the media's potential effect. During epidemics, media is known to spread awareness and disease mitigation efforts (Xiao et al., 2015). But in the digital age, information overload, misinformation, and rumours tend to be detrimental to such mitigation efforts. The Director-General of WHO (2020) stressed the importance of facts, stating that misinformation makes health workers' efforts challenging. While social media platforms have been asked to screen fake news, the influencers have been asked to actively promote facts in their posts, as some of the measures to tackle the ‘infodemic' regarding COVID-19. This study uses the concept of media literacy, active audience, media dependency theory, health information-seeking behaviour, expectancy-value theory, among others, to recognize information search patterns and assess media literacy levels, including processing and verification of information by mainstream media audiences and social media users during the COVID-19 pandemic period in India.

Last modified: 2021-05-06 14:21:39