Covering COVID-19: how Australian media reported the coronavirus pandemic in 2020

Media reporting COVID-19 Digital news Journalism Pandemics News media Australia

Researchers from the University of Canberra’s News and Media Research Centre and media monitoring company, Streem, identified 2,549,143 distinct news items about COVID-19 across online, television, radio and print media between January and November 2020. Items were coded into four themes, 14 categories and 37 distinct topics.

The research analysed how news media reporting contributed to the construction of the COVID-19 crisis in the context of the societal forces and factors that shape news and the processes and practices of journalistic decision-making. The authors note the logistical, financial and emotional pressures on the news media industry tasked with reporting on this unprecedented event and the subsequent volume of news it generated. The COVID-19 pandemic dominated Australian news in 2020. Its scope, severity and ubiquity gave audiences an unquenchable thirst for news, while intense and relentless news media reporting formed the backdrop to the public’s everyday experience of the pandemic.

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