Covid-19: How American Media Covered The Pandemic


When it came to taking the Covid-19 pandemic seriously, was the American media fast enough to act? Where there certain media publications that took the Covid-19 virus seriously from the start?

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An Analysis Of Covid-19 Media Coverage

A digital marketing agency in Chicago named Digital Third Coast recently performed an analysis of Covid-19 media coverage in the early months of 2020 to see when publications began to pursue the subject and to see which publications performed the best when it came to covering the pandemic from the early stages.

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Using the Internet Archive wayback machine, they studied snapshots of coronavirus-related news and opinion over the first 10 weeks of this year, across 18 of the nation’s most prominent online publications. With this data, they constructed 2 interactive and 1 static timeline of how quickly or slowly these publications pursued the subject and how each publication’s coverage relates to its peers. For each publication, they counted the number of Covid-19 related headlines on the homepage of the website. Covid-19 related headlines also included words like pandemic and Coronavirus among other examples.

Their analysis started at the first week of January when coverage of Covid-19 in the media was virtually non-existent and spanned 10 weeks into the middle part of March when the first wave of stay at home orders and shutdowns began. The thinking with this timeline was to see which media publications were covering the virus as the threat became more real.

Tracking The Emergence Of Covid-19

Listed below is some of the main takeaways of the analysis. No sector of the mainstream media was quicker and more vigilant in tracking the emergence of Covid-19 than finance-focused publications. By the end of January, Bloomberg, Reuters and The Wall Street Journal accounted for 46% of all Covid-19 headlines analyzed.

When looking at coronavirus as the lead story on a publication’s home page, Bloomberg and Reuters had the most Covid-19 related lead stories in January while the New York Times and ABC News had the strongest finishes, each with four consecutive weeks of lead stories heading into mid-March.

When analyzing total coronavirus headlines over 10 weeks these 10 publications had the most coverage: 1. Bloomberg 2. Reuters 3. Breitbart 4. WSJ 5. NBC News 6. CBS News 7. Politico 8. New York Post 9. ABC News 10. USA Today.

To see the full results on how the media covered Covid-19, check out the link in the second paragraph to see the two interactive timelines from Digital Third Coast.

covid 19 media coverage