Managing News Overload (MNO): The COVID-19 Infodemic

Sameera Tahira Ahmed

Information 2020, 11(8), 375


A crucial area in which information overload is experienced is news consumption. Ever increasing sources and formats are becoming available through a combination of traditional and new (digital) media, including social media. In such an information and media rich environment, understanding how people access and manage news during a global health epidemic like COVID-19 becomes even more important. The designation of the current situation as an infodemic has raised concerns about the quality, accuracy and impact of information. Instances of misinformation are commonplace due, in part, to the speed and pervasive nature of social media and messaging applications in particular. This paper reports on data collected using media diaries from 15 university students in the United Arab Emirates documenting their news consumption in April 2020. Faced with a potentially infinite amount of information and news, participants demonstrate how they are managing news overload (MNO) using a number of complementary strategies. Results show that while consumption patterns vary, all diaries indicate that users’ ability to navigate the news landscape in a way that fulfils their needs is influenced by news sources; platform reliability and verification; sharing activity; and engagement with news.