KAMPALA – Television, radio and online news sites were the most common type of media that respondents were exposed to during the COVID-19 lockdown, a survey shows.
Uganda registered its first case of Covid-19 on March 22, 2020, and instated lockdown measures in the same month. These developments were accompanied by a series of Presidential addresses and a significant increase in media coverage about the pandemic.
According to the survey conducted in the month of July by Whitehead Communications, television was the most common type of media that respondents were exposed to at least once a week (68%). It was followed by radio at 45% and online news sites at 42%. However, social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook also commanded a larger following. Newspapers and magazines were only followed by 23% of the respondents.
“Surveys by GeoPoll3 and IPSOS4 also indicate that TV has thrived throughout Uganda’s Covid-19 lockdown. However, this survey and the aforementioned reports over-sampled the Kampala area, so it is worth noting that Radio – which 47% of respondents of this survey were exposed to at least once a week – is known to be the most common source of information for Ugandans in rural areas. This survey was also shared widely through social media, especially Twitter, which could account for the respondents’ high exposure to news through WhatsApp (46%), Twitter (63%) and Facebook (50%),” the survey states.
Respondents revealed that they were exposed to information on Covid-19 through other channels including: SMS messages from the Ministry of Health, word of mouth, local leaders using PA systems as they move through villages, updates at places of work, and other digital platforms such as email, video calls/webinars, YouTube, LinkedIn and Instagram.
The survey results are a further indication of the declining influence of print media. In May, several mainstream media houses including New Vision announced major salary cuts and staff restructuring amid declining copy sales during COVID-19.
This survey, conducted in July delivers data on both public opinion and self-reported behaviour concerning key issues related to the impact of Covid-19 in Uganda.
Whitehead Communications gathered 1,353 responses – or 1,182 after data cleaning – between the 6th and 15th of July, 2020, using a mixed methodology collecting results from a purposive sample both online and through phone calls. This report is intended to serve as a resource to decision-makers and the general public by providing research-based insights to inform public discussion and policy in response to Covid-19.