This study examined media coverage of COVID-19 in Nigeria with attention to the frequency and depth of coverage, story format, news sources, media tone and themes. Four widely read newspapers were content analysed between February 2020 and April 2020. Focus was on Daily Sun, Vanguard, Daily Trust and Leadership. Results indicated that the Nigerian media performed well in terms of covering the pandemic, which in turn created awareness. However, the coverage was not in-depth as most of the reported stories were short and were predominantly straight news. It was also observed that the media cited more of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and government officials. Further findings disclosed that most of the stories were alarming and induced panic. Most common topics were coverage of cases in Nigeria, death rates and concerns about Nigeria's preparedness. Public sensitization and education were sparingly covered. Ethics healthcare workers could adhere to received minimal attention. The media should focus more on sensitizing and educating the public on the necessary steps to take in curbing the virus. They should refrain from over usage of alarming and panic tone in presenting the stories of COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria.
We proposed a conceptual model combining three theories: uses and gratification theory, social networking sites (SNS) dependency theory and social impact theory to understand the factors that predict fake news sharing related to COVID-19. We also tested the moderating role of fake news knowledge in reducing the tendency to share fake news. Data were drawn from social media users (n = 650) in Nigeria, and partial least squares was used to analyse the data. Our results suggest that tie strength was the strongest predictor of fake news sharing related to COVID-19 pandemic. We also found perceived herd, SNS dependency, information-seeking and parasocial interaction to be significant predictors of fake news sharing. The effect of status-seeking on fake news sharing, however, was not significant. Our results also established that fake news knowledge significantly moderated the effect of perceived herd, SNS dependency, information-seeking, parasocial interaction on fake news sharing related to COVID-19. However, tie strength and status-seeking effects were not moderated.
This study modelled factors that predict fake news sharing during the COVID-19 health crisis using the perspective of the affordance and cognitive load theory. Data were drawn from 385 social media users in Nigeria, and Partial Least Squares (PLS) was used to analyse the data. We found that news-find-me perception, information overload, trust in online information, status seeking, self-expression and information sharing predicted fake news sharing related to COVID-19 pandemic among social media users in Nigeria. Greater effects of news-find-me perception and information overload were found on fake news sharing behaviour as compared to trust in online information, status seeking, self-expression and information sharing. Theoretically, our study enriches the current literature by focusing on the affordances of social media and the abundance of online information in predicting fake news sharing behaviour among social media users, especially in Nigeria. Practically, we suggest intervention strategies which nudge people to be sceptical of the information they come across on social media.