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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The Relationship Between Covid-19 and the Media: Measuring Current Audience Media Behavior and Reaction to Covid-19 News
by Skahill, Connor, M.A., The George Washington University, 2021, 62; 28260866
Abstract (Summary)

The coronavirus disease, or COVID-19, is currently taking our world by storm. The novel respiratory and infectious disease has sickened millions and has killed 200,000 and counting in the United States alone, and it does not seem to be slowing. The coronavirus has been a topic of debate and discussion in the media since early 2020. In the beginning, the disease was not portrayed as a huge threat to the health system and economy of the United States. However, as we are almost nine months into the unprecedented quarantine, we cannot escape the coronavirus in reality and on the news. Therefore, it is crucial for Americans to gain, maintain, and regularly consume information regarding the current status and the critical repercussions of the illness. In this paper, I will examine the role the media are playing in shaping the United States’ population understanding of the virus, as I consider disinformation, the coronavirus outlined as either a political or an economic issue, and finally, the dramatic heightening or unfair minimization of the disease. When I acknowledge that the media have a role in shaping, I allude to this problem stems to how the media frame the COVID-19 pandemic. Is the news story positive or negative, is it accurate or misleading, is there bias?

It is important to decipher that I will be discussing media on a national scale, not focusing on local or global media in terms of the relationship. I define media as the information given and received via national television news, social media, and the Internet as a whole. In addition, I will then argue that the media need to strengthen the reporting of the coronavirus if we are in this situation for the foreseeable future. The following thesis will be divided into sections focusing on skewed coronavirus coverage (‘fake news’), how the media are distracting from the health issues of the coronavirus by transforming the illness into domestic and foreign policy issue, and how the press is covering the virus as a partisan issue. I will look at data that shows how the American public is relying on social media at this time, not only out of boredom, but also for information and education. Thus, I argue that the information on different sites needs to be better and more reliable than ever. In my study, I will conduct an original content analysis as well as in depth interviews in hopes of understanding how the media are shaping the interviewees’ understanding of the coronavirus. Finally, with this qualitative data, there will be a concluding discussion on the overall relationship of COVID-19 and the media, and a discussion of implications from my findings.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Aday, Sean
Commitee: Ross, Jessica, Kabra, Patricia
School: The George Washington University
Department: Media & Strategic Communications
School Location: United States -- District of Columbia
Source: MAI 82/7(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Communication
Publication Number: 28260866
ISBN: 9798557083461
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