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Coronavirus Top News Story January 2020

4 min read.

Fiona Lawlor, Research Project Manager

by Fiona Lawlor, Research Project Manager

Core Research

As anticipated in Core’s Predict 2020 report earlier this year, health is a hot topic for the Irish public, and according to Core’s Cultural Index, the most important story in January centred around health – namely the declaration of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) as a global health emergency. 92% of the Irish population were aware of this event and 88% said it was important or very important.

Politics on the Agenda

The announcement of the Irish general election came next in our ranking of news stories, 94% of the population were aware of this and 85% stated it was important to them. Young families were particularly engaged, with 87% saying this was important or very important to them.

However, stories in this month’s Cultural Index avoided reference to specific parties, policies or developments over the course of election campaigns. For more information on how election-specific stories resonated with voters, read our special General Election Cultural Index report.

The UK’s official departure from the EU also struck a chord with Irish adults, resonating particularly strongly with young adults, with 82% stating that this was an important news story to them.


A tragic human story resonated with the Irish people. The funeral of the McGinley children strongly resonated with females (69% believing this story was important or very important, compared to 57% of males).

Snow, Awards and Sports

As always is the case in our Cultural Index analysis, weather scored high this month, with 84% of people aware of Storm Brendan and 75% saying it was important to them.

As awards season began 51% were aware that Joker topped the list of Oscar nominations, while 44% were aware of Billie Eilish’s success at the Grammys. Meanwhile, in television, 50% were aware of the launch of the Winter Edition of Love Island (rising to 60% of young adults), but this was also viewed at not important by 66% of the population.

In sport, while more people were aware of Conor McGregor’s defeat of Donald Cerrone in UFC 246 (64%) than of the return of the GAA Allianz Leagues (45%), more importance was placed on the return of these local leagues (61%) compared to the international fight (39%).


The Cultural Index measures the brand campaigns, news stories, debates and topics which occur every month in the country, surveying 1,000 people.

We ask two questions:
– How many people are aware of the news story?
– How important is the story in their life?

From these two scores, we produce the Cultural Index – a 100 point scale indicating how engaged people are with various stories which shape Irish culture. Since 2015, we have analysed nearly 1,000 stories.

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