Media literacy as a long-term response to disinformation

There are many things that are unknown during the COVID-19 crisis, which has resulted in the spread of a large amount of disinformation, fake news, and conspiracy theories

Jelena Perovic
A mother and a daughter in front of the computer
UNICEF Montenegro / Duško Miljanić / 2018
13 May 2020

PODGORICA, 13 MAY 2020 – There are many things that are unknown during the COVID-19 crisis, which has resulted in the spread of a large amount of disinformation, fake news, and conspiracy theories, and this has put the issue of the most effective way to combat disinformation in the spotlight. Seven out of 10 citizens of Montenegro recognize media literacy as a long-term response to this phenomenon. They believe that media literacy among citizens would enable them to check the accuracy of information themselves, which would reduce the spread of disinformation. This is the result of, among other things, the latest research that Ipsos has conducted, with the support of UNICEF, on a nationally representative sample of citizens over the age of 18.

Data from this study shows that, compared to the beginning of the coronavirus crisis, the number of concerned citizens has decreased, but it is still significant. Over half of Montenegrin citizens (57%) are concerned that they personally and people close to them could become infected with the coronavirus. On the other hand, two-fifths of citizens (42%) are not concerned.

A grandpa and a granddaughter in front of the tablet
UNICEF Montenegro / Duško Miljanić / 2017

Reduced concern has affected people’s behaviour, so close to one half (46%) have gone for walks and been in nature and outdoors more often in the last week. However, most citizens say that they have not increased their contact with other people, nor have they gone to their friends’ and relatives’ places, nor have they had visits from people in their homes.

Since the COVID-19 crisis began, citizens have been following the media much more, especially television, but have also been more involved in some offline activities, such as reading books and playing board games. Namely, over a half of citizens (54%) say that they have watched TV more than in the previous period. About one-third of citizens used social networks more frequently, visited news sites, read books, and played board games more than in the previous period.

Citizens are now not only less concerned, but also more divided on the issue of coronavirus compared to the period when the COVID-19 crisis began. One in two (51%) feel that the coronavirus outbreak is being contained and that the media is exaggerating the extent of the coronavirus outbreak (47%), while the rest are almost equally divided between those who do not know and those who do not agree with these claims. The situation is similar with regard to the statement that a vaccine for COVID-19 will be found soon and the suspicion that this virus originated in a laboratory – one in two citizens believe these claims, about one-fifth of citizens do not agree with them, while the rest are undecided.

A father and a son in front of the computer
UNICEF Crna Gora / Duško Miljanić / 2018

This is the fifth piece of research conducted by Ipsos, with the support of UNICEF, during the crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The nationally representative sample for this survey consists of 810 citizens aged 18 or over. Data collection was conducted through a telephone survey using a questionnaire with an average duration of 10 minutes in the period from 28 April to 2 May of this year.

IPSOS survey 2 May 2020
UNICEF Montenegro / Duško Miljanić / 2020