This study takes as a starting point the importance and dependence of the media to obtain information about the pandemic. The dependency theory of the media system was developed in the 1970s when mass media were the dominant source of information. Today, at a time when media choices have become abundant, studies are needed to understand the phenomenon of media dependence in light of new dimensions made important by the transformations that have taken place in the social and media fields—where the coexistence of mass media with social media platforms stands out. As large-scale crises rarely occur and the media environment changes rapidly, it is important to analyze how media dependence relates to choose and trust in different media (traditional media vs. social media) in times of crisis. Several questions arise. What is the trust attributed by individuals to social media as sources of information about COVID-19? How well informed are the individuals who choose these sources as the main sources of information? From a questionnaire administered to 244 individuals in Portugal, during the first week of the state of emergency (March 2020), this research seeks to identify how people gained access to information about COVID-19, how they acted critically towards the various sources and how they assess the reliability of different media. Finally, it analyzes the association between the type of medium chosen and adherence to misinformation content about the virus. The results reveal the existence of a phenomenon of dependence on the media, with a strong exposure (both active and accidental) to informative content, with conventional media being privileged as the main source, and positively distinguished in terms of confidence. Finally, a statistically significant association of a positive sign was identified between the use of social media as the main source and the acceptance of misinformation.
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