The Mediation of Distant Suffering: Applied Network Agenda-setting study to explore the reporting of #WuhanCoronavirus


In December 2019, the first case of novel coronavirus pneumonia (NCP for short) was found in Wuhan, Hubei Province. With the spread of the epidemic, many cases have been found in other regions of China and abroad. In this public health emergency, health communication has attracted most of people's attention, the domestic and foreign media have also shown obvious differences in the news reporting.

Based on the literature review of previous SARS and H7N9 media reports, our study aims to compare the differences between domestic media and foreign media, central media and local media on the topics of this event, to analyze the presentation of such reports and the underlying causes of the differences.

Besides, content analysis and comparative analysis were utilized to do the research. About 1000 reports on the NCP were selected from seven domestic (including central and local) and foreign traditional media. Fifteen indicators were set up to code the topics, including the latest progress of epidemic situation, popular science of disease, government's epidemic prevention policies and measures, personal protection, infection cases, medical construction, the voice of experts, evaluation of state organs and their staff, sympathy and emotional support, negative emotional expression, rumor refutation, epidemic prevention materials, social impact of the epidemic, donation needs or offers or volunteering services and response to China.

Our findings show that domestic and foreign media both have many reports on the topics of 'the latest progress of the epidemic', 'government's epidemic prevention policies and measures' and 'the voice of experts'. At the same time, foreign media reported more topics such as 'social impact of the epidemic', 'response to China' and 'negative emotional expression'. In China,central media reported more topics such as 'donation needs or offers or volunteering services' and 'sympathy and emotional support' than local media, while local media paid more attention to topics such as 'personal protection' and 'infection cases'.