Comparing COVID-19 Coverage Across Domestic, Business And International Television News

Feature Charticle

How has coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic differed across television channels?

The timeline below plots spoken word mentions on BBC News London, CNN, MSNBC and Fox News. Note that BBC News doesn't show a dropoff during the George Floyd protests.

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GDELT Project

 

In contrast, the timeline below shows the same channels, but counts the total seconds of airtime in which COVID-related terms appeared in the onscreen text such as chyrons. While it shows the same overall temporal trends, it reflects the powerful signal onscreen text offers into the topics being discussed on the news.

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GDELT Project

The timeline below shows a selection of international English-language television news and how they all began to cover it in unison far earlier than the US, reflecting how Europe recognized the threat very early on. These don't show the sharp drop-off in coverage during the George Floyd protests seen on the American channels.

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GDELT Project

The timeline below tracks a selection of US business news channels showing how they also focused on it relatively early on. NOTE that most weekend coverage is excluded here, yielding the weekend drops below. The dropoff during the George Floyd protests is seen below as well.

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GDELT Project

Finally, online coverage covering the 65 languages monitored by GDELT does not show a dropoff during the Floyd protests, reflecting that globally coverage declined linearly from mid-March to around June 2, 2020 and has remained relatively stable since, though it has declined slightly since the start of this month.

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GDELT Project