We analyze short-term media trust changes during the COVID-19 pandemic, their ideological drivers and consequences based on panel data in German-speaking Switzerland. We thereby differentiate trust in political information from different types of traditional and non-traditional media. COVID-19 serves as a natural experiment, in which citizens' media trust at the outbreak of the crisis is compared with the same variables after the severe lockdown measures were lifted. Our data reveal that (1) media trust is consequential as it is associated with people' willingness to follow Covid-19 regulations; (2) media trust changes during the pandemic, with trust levels for most media decreasing, with the exception of public service broadcasting; (3) trust losses are hardly connected to ideological divides in Switzerland. Our findings highlight that public service broadcasting plays an exceptional role in the fight against a pandemic and that contrary to the US, no partisan trust divide occurs.
covid-19; media trust; short-term trust changes; ideological attitudes; willingness to follow covid-19 regulations