Local News Online and COVID in the U.S.: Relationships among Coverage, Cases, Deaths, and Audience

Authors

  • Kenneth Joseph University at Buffalo
  • Benjamin D. Horne University Tennessee Knoxville
  • Jon Green Northeastern University
  • John P. Wihbey Northeastern University

Keywords:

Trend identification and tracking; time series forecasting, Qualitative and quantitative studies of social media

Abstract

We present analyses from a real-time information monitoring system of online local news in the U.S. We study relationships among online local news coverage of COVID, cases and deaths in an area, and properties of local news outlets and their audiences. Our analysis relies on a unique dataset of the online content of over 300 local news outlets, encompassing over 750,000 articles over a period of 10 months spanning April 2020 to February 2021. We find that the rate of COVID coverage over time by local news outlets was primarily associated with death rates at the national level, but that this effect dissipated over the course of the pandemic as news about COVID was steadily displaced by sociopolitical events, like the 2020 U.S. elections. We also find that both the volume and content of COVID coverage differed depending on local politics, and outlet audience size, as well as evidence that more vulnerable populations received less pandemic-related news.

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Published

2022-05-31

How to Cite

Joseph, K., Horne, B. D., Green, J., & Wihbey, J. P. (2022). Local News Online and COVID in the U.S.: Relationships among Coverage, Cases, Deaths, and Audience. Proceedings of the International AAAI Conference on Web and Social Media, 16(1), 441-452. Retrieved from https://ojs.aaai.org/index.php/ICWSM/article/view/19305