In a pandemic or any crisis for that matter, the most valuable resource is information. To know what is going on, when, and where can determine whether a society reacts quickly enough to a threat to not be wiped out by it. The Coronavirus Pandemic has swept the earth off its feet. From the emergence of the virus in China to the new daily cases in the five figures range for America, our lives may have been changed for the next few years. However, how does society know? Who is responsible for sharing the information? Can reporting on Coronavirus in a specific frame be more beneficial? What analytical and thought theory plays into this issue?
This article attempts to cover three core fundamentals of how society reacts to the reporting of covid from newspaper media, how newspaper media reports the pandemic, and how people perceive the pandemic based on the newspaper’s report. These three fundamentals play off of each other and tend to have a link with each other.
As journalists, it is in their job and interest to report on the latest issues that would affect everyone and fight off misleading news, rumours, and many other information elements. By being the first to respond and report about covid, they are instrumental in how individuals, society, and governments react and focus on the pandemic.
Brian Dunning’s research from an article posted on The Conversation reports that humans almost always think anecdotally. Basing our experience as our guiding pillar (TheConversation, 2020) can affect how we view specific events. For example, a racist may link certain traits to a minority, despite the reason only being due to a personal experience that does not speak for the whole. Due to this, Brian insists on the importance of not sensationalizing COVID-19.
The research was also done to see whether media coverage on a particular event could lead to more people caring and changing things. It was found that people cared and paid more attention. It was also found that organizations began to demand change due to the attention the event did. In similar but separate research, research was done in Nigeria that sought to see how the media framed the coronavirus pandemic and its effects. Due to the coverage of the media and the framing it adopted, Nigerians were quick to take precautionary measures at all levels, and thus helped the public’s perception onto covid-19 as to take it seriously.
However, framing the narrative and using the right words is also just as important. It was found that Malaysians News Media quickly changed from using “Swine Flu” to “H1N1” due to the direct Malay translation of “Selsema Babi”
However, most importantly, by framing a narrative, by filtering what is read, and by shifting the focus of a pandemic, newspaper media are actively carrying out agenda-setting theory. As written above, the agenda-setting theory has its benefits and flaws, all of which are based on concurrent assumptions. The first is that when the media places more importance on an issue, it will be perceived as more important. Secondly, the assumption that what we see is filtered rather than the true reflection of our world.
Media plays an important role in any pandemic for that matter. During COVID-19 Pandemic, Media hyped the issue very well but its direction was way wrong in India. Instead of information, it felt like media spreading fear in India. Information is must and people should address it calmly.