Media Release: Launch of the fifth COVID-19 media coverage analysis

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In order to determine trends in coverage of the Covid-19 pandemic in terms of sources in South
African media, Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) is running a series of analyses where findings are
compared against each other to show improvement, or the lack thereof. The previous four analyses published had a monitoring period of two weeks, however in order to observe trends over time, this particular brief looks at data over a four-week period. From the four analyses published so far, it can be deduced that that the President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa and the Minister of Health, Dr. Zweli Mkhize are always on top of the list of people speaking in coverage of Covid-19. These two, together with other sources consistently being in the top 10, show that coverage of Covid-19 in South African media mostly has voices belonging to black male government officials. This has been the trend observed from the first brief to the previous in this series.

 

While there seem to be reasons for this dominance of these voices, this has been at the expense of other critical voices that should be speaking, voices such as those belonging to scientists,
medical experts and researchers and women etc. The consequence of this is that media coverage of
Covid-19 becomes mostly about announcing of new infections, recoveries and deaths and less about
new discoveries, developments in vaccines or how the livelihoods of children, women and other
vulnerable groups have been affected.

“The role of the media during this pandemic has been one of critical importance – informing and
educating the public and holding those in power to account. Although there are clear examples of
excellence among media and journalists reporting on Covid-19, it is concerning that we have not
seen a broader representation of voices, particularly women’s voices, during this period. As we observe women’s month in South Africa, we encourage the media to reflect on this point and make every effort to improve this representation” – Head of Programmes, Thandi Smith

 

This fifth analysis (monitoring period from the 31st of May until the 27th of June, 2020), shows that
there has not been much improvement in sources save for one source making a first time
appearance on the top 10 sources list. As has been the trend, the sources list has been missing
voices from the affiliation, ‘Academic/Expert/Researchers’, therefore, this newcomer, a researcher
and professor, despite having a very low voice share, is commendable as it shows the media is slowly
grasping the idea of including diverse voices in coverage of Covid-19.

DOWNLOAD THE FULL ANALYSIS HERE

This analysis can be accessed from MMA’s website (www.mediamonitoringafrica.org) as well as
social media platforms (Facebook and Twitter) on which it will be shared.

For enquiries, please contact Lister Namumba, the Monitoring, Research and Analysis Programme
Manager by sending an email to listerr@mma.org.za.

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