Visual map tracks media coverage of COVID-19

Communications agency Madano has launched an online map that monitors and analyses media coverage of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Phase three of the analysis so far
Phase three of the analysis so far

The map has been tracking news reports since the emergence of the new virus at the end of last year and will continue to evaluate coverage as the crisis evolves.

The approach uses a machine-learning model to read headlines and place articles in the map – with each one placed closest to the term it is most like.

Each dot on the map represents a media article about COVID-19 and the articles naturally form into key topic areas.

The data, which covers media reporting from December 2019 to March 2020 in the UK, US and Canada, is updated on a weekly basis.

The analysis shows three key phases of coverage so far:

Phase 1: The virus emerges, concentrated in China and East Asia

Initial conversations focus on a ‘mystery’ virus causing pneumonia in China and some speculation as to whether the virus is more like Flu or SARS in its severity.

Phase 2: The virus begins to spread beyond East Asia

There is a big focus on financial markets, discussions around consumer confidence, travel restrictions, personal safety of citizens and more emphasis on hygiene practices such as washing hands more frequently.

Phase 3: The virus becomes established Europe and North America

Reporting on social distancing picks up momentum as well as self-isolation and possible financial repercussions of the outbreak on global economies.

The analysis shows rapid changes in coverage over the previous weeks as the virus progresses towards Europe and North America, and illustrates the challenges for government and organisations in communicating proactively on an issue that is rapidly changing.

Gareth Morrell, head of insights at Madano, said: “The COVID-19 outbreak is a crisis impacting all of our lives in ways we probably never imagined and we’re reliant on the right information at the right time to overcome the challenge we face.

"Therefore, understanding what’s being said in the media and the public domain is crucial as the outbreak situation unfolds. In the coming weeks we will be updating the analysis and looking in more detail at media and social media discussions around the crisis.”

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