Strategic communications consultancy Madano has launched an online map monitoring and analysing media coverage of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) since its initial outbreak emerged late last year and how that is evolving as the crisis develops. The map, which tracks media coverage using Madano’s ‘topic mapping’ methodology to identify and visualise key themes.

The approach uses a machine learning model to read headlines and places articles within the map, each article is placed closest to those 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 covers media reporting from December 2019 up until March 2020 in the UK, US and Canada and is updated on a weekly basis.

The analysis shows three key phases of coverage identified below:

  • Phase 1: The virus is just emerging and concentrated on 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 outside of East Asia and 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.

This first analysis shows rapid changes in coverage over the previous weeks as the virus progresses towards Europe and North America. It illustrates the challenges for government and organisations in communicating proactively around an issue that is rapidly changing and impacts society in so many different ways.

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 of 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.”

How is the media talking about COVID-19? from Madano on Vimeo