March 30, 2020

Analysis: “Information Pandemic: Initial Explorations Of COVID-19 Coverage”

Note: Media Cloud is an Open Source Media Analysis Platform from the MIT Center For Civic Media and The Berkman Klein Center For Internet & Society at Harvard University.

From a Media Cloud Blog Post:

It seems obvious that coverage of the coronavirus and its implications has taken over media agendas across the world. We were interested in seeing to what extent and how that had happened. In particular, we looked at media across Western Europe and the US and their reaction to the arrival of the virus to those parts of the world. We used Media Cloud’s National and State & Local collections in the US, Italy, Spain, Germany, the UK, and France to look at media coverage and we used Worldometers data on coronavirus cases to draw the backdrop for our analysis.

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The graph below shows the percentage of all stories published in each country that mention the coronavirus (from Jan 1st until mid-March).

A few things are worth noting in that graph. The first is the unprecedented focus of all media ecosystems on a specific topic. By March 18th, over 70% of all stories published in Italy, the UK, and Spain mentioned the virus. In the US and France it was slightly lower (about two thirds of all stories), while Germany seemed to be the only country with room for other issues (about half of the stories mentioned the virus).

As points of comparison, we looked at the media attention paid to (1) Trump’s election by US media in November 2016 and (2) the Brexit referendum by UK media in June-July 2016, and compared them to (3) the attention paid to coronavirus by US media over the past month. Despite the high peaks on the day of the US presidential election, and the day of the Brexit referendum, the most newsworthy political stories of the past years pale in comparison to the virus’ coverage. The dominance of this story in media agendas is literally unprecedented in our experience.

Read the Complete Post/Analysis and View Charts (approx. 980 words)

Direct to Access Media Cloud

Gary Price About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.

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