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Research

Stories of September 2020

5 min read.

Fiona Lawlor, Research Project Manager

by Fiona Lawlor, Research Project Manager

Core Research

During 2020, every month has presented unpredictable news stories which grab the attention of the Irish public. September was no different, and while COVID-19 continues to dominate the news agenda of 2020, other stories are influencing public sentiment.

We interview adults in Ireland about the news from the previous month, and we ask them to rate them based on how aware (or not) they were of the story and if familiar, how important the news story was on their own personal life.

 

COVID-19 dominates.

The Core COVID-19 tracker highlights that 64% of the population are now very or extremely concerned about COVID-19 in Ireland. This level of concern is a return to public anxiety experienced in April and May of 2020.


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Given the increased concern about the spread of COVID-19 in recent weeks, it is expected that the Government’s decision to move all Irish counties to Level 3 was the most significant story.

92% of the population were aware of this development and 89% of people said this was important or very important to them personally.

24% were surprised, 13% were angry and 13% were afraid that the Government rejected NPHET’s suggestion to move country to Level 5 of the COVID-19 plan and moves to Level 3. 20% had no emotion towards the decision, while 10% were happy with the decision.



 

These emotional responses to this decision are driven by trust (or distrust) in authorities and which authority different groups of people are listening to.

According to our COVID-19 sentiment tracker, NPHET continues to have the majority support of the Irish public, with 68% of the public approving of the how the public health authority is handling the COVID-19 situation. In comparison, 49% of the public approve of the Government’s handling. Those who were angry, afraid, or disgusted by the Government’s decision, were more likely to support NPHET’s advice.


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USA Influencing Our Sentiment.

Three stories from the US also had high awareness scores, and while not as high as Irish news stories in terms of importance, the majority of people in Ireland believed they were important. 95% of the population were aware of Trump testing positive for COVID-19, while 85% were aware that the first US Presidential debate took place a few days before.

The Irish public will engage closely with the US elections in the next month and the result will have a significant impact on our relationship with America.

 

Cycling, Celebrities and Companions.

The top sports story in September’s Cultural Index was the news of cyclist Sam Bennett winning a green jersey in the Tour de France, with over half of the population (55%) being aware of this story. Leinster’s victory in the Guinness Pro14 Championship was the second most popular story, with 31% of the population aware of this victory.

The return of  RTÉ’s ‘The Den’ was the top entertainment story this month, with 48% of the population aware of the plans to return the show to our screens in November. Nostalgia must be in the air, as 44% of those aware of this news felt that the return of the show was important or very important – driven by Young Adults and Young Families.

Meanwhile, nearly half of the population (49%) were aware that ‘Keeping Up with the Kardashians’ is set to end in 2021, with this awareness driven by young female audiences. However, just 1 in 3 of those aware felt that this news was important.

In sad news, the passing of President Michael D. Higgins’ Bernese mountain dog Síoda, was a tragic, yet poignant story for the Irish public this month, as 71% of the population were aware of the loss of our national companion.

 

Photo 📸 by Brian McGowan on Unsplash

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