Euromood-Infoweb report of Roma Tre on news and online iterations on the coronavirus. “Touching unprecedented records. Some media have waited too long to mobilize”
Never before has any news upset the online information world to such an extent. As expected, news related to the ongoing pandemic from coronavirus have reached unprecedented records for iteration by users, bypassing any value reached until before the beginning of 2020. To examine and tell the dimensions reached by the information coverage on Covid19 in Europe, how the spread of news has grown with the epidemic increasing, how much attention has received the topic, or which countries have been able to catch and deal with the news about the virus in a timely manner through the media or late, is the report Euromood Infoweb-Covid19, survey based on Facebook posts from 257 online news outlets from 27 European countries (plus Great Britain) from January 1st to March 14th.
To give an idea: last Saturday (March 14), the first day of the weekend from isolation in Italy and the date of the closure of the borders in Poland, Slovakia, Denmark and other countries, the coronavirus was the theme of 40.6% of all the news published on Facebook by the European news outlets. There is talk of 2,332 news, in one day, on just over five thousand. According to what Roma Tre experts write, “considering that on 11 September 2001 the web and online information were not as developed, 40.6% of news dedicated to a single theme represents a record for the European digital arena “.
On the same day, between songs from the balconies, children’s drawings with “It will be all right” and blocking measures announced in France or concerns in other States, the news published on Covid-19 collected about 50% of all the iterations expressed by the readers in Europe.
Logically, the period is also decisive in the analysis of the figures: from January 1 (closure of the Wuhan market in China) to mid-January, the Covid19 theme represented just 0.2% of European news. In the following days, therefore, interest grew exponentially. “From February 21, the day of the discovery of positive cases in Italy, a growth trend begins which leads on February 26 to exceed 1,300 articles. On March 12 almost 3000 articles” reads the report.
In the ranking of attention related to the coronavirus, Italy leads the way, in Europe, with 30% of the posts dedicated to the topic. France (19%), Czech Republic (18%), Malta and Hungary follow. But there are also many countries where the numbers of contagion are growing dramatically today, which previously took time before placing the coronavirus at the center of their media narration on the web.
“With the exception of Italy, first and most affected by the virus, the impression is that in other countries the information, in addition to following the development of the story at national and European level, was also influenced by the register adopted by the government and by the institutions, ending up underestimating the phenomenon, limiting its coverage – reads the report – Until March 8 coverage in Spain and Germany is at minimum values. While in Spain it is the beginning of a rapidly growing trend, in Germany values remain low even in the following days “.
More generally, according to the sociologist Edoardo Novelli di Roma Tre “the trend of information has followed the criteria of newsworthiness. The attention paid to Covid-19 in Italy is clearly higher than in all other countries. The ranking of online information attention to the topic in several countries show that there is no direct correlation with the spread of the infection. Covid-19 coverage in countries today heavily affected by the infection such as Germany and Austria is sensationally low. A little higher, but always contained compared to the extent assumed by the infection, it appears in England and Spain. On the other hand, the least affected and most attentive to the phenomenon were the Czech Republic, Malta and Hungary. Until March 8, coverage in Spain and Germany is at minimum values. While in Spain it is the beginning of a rapidly growing trend, in Germany the values remain among the lowest even in the following days “.
“Social big data – says instead Ugo Esposito, CEO of Kapusons – in moments like this they draw formidable trends on the contagion of fear to which the media contribute decisively. Artificial intelligence applied to online information analysis can prove to be a decisive tool for analyzing and monitoring the contagion of fear and how it is contextualized within a dynamic of communication in which the various European countries have acted in scattered order. It is not Italy that has frightened the other countries but everyone has waited to be hit directly before mobilizing. Even the media. And this must make us reflect a lot on the missed opportunity for the world media to help the explosion of the pandemic. “