Television Versus Online News Coverage Of Vaccines

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How has television news coverage of Covid-19 vaccines compared with online coverage? The timeline below shows the percentage of airtime across CNN, MSNBC and Fox News mentioning vaccination since the start of 2020 using data from the Internet Archive's Television News Archive, showing how mentions soared after Pfizer's early November announcement, but that since the middle of December, mentions have been trending down. Noteably, since the inauguration CNN and MSNBC have refocused on vaccination, while Fox News has not. The large shifts in attention reflect the fact that television news has a fixed amount of daily airtime, meaning that as breaking stories emerge they displace other stories like vaccination.

GDELT Project

In contrast, the timeline below shows the percentage of worldwide online news coverage monitored by GDELT that mentioned vaccination, showing the same rise after Pfizer's announcement. Yet, unlike television news which has been distracted by other major stories in the two months since, online coverage grew steadily through mid-December and has remained remarkably stable since, reflecting that in the online world breaking stories can run in parallel to previously scheduled coverage.

In other words, television news is subtractive in which new stories displace existing stories, while online news is additive, in which new coverage simply runs alongside existing coverage.

GDELT Project