We studied 3 news portals, providing information about COVID-19 to check how factual they are and evaluate how news is told.
“Russian gazette” (from 20.09.2020)
The first is RG.ru (“Russian gazette”) “Coronavirus sets new records in Europe” , by Yuri Kogalov. The article begins with a photo gallery of different European countries: Netherlands, Austria, Belgium, Norway, Switzerland, Lithuania, Poland, and Greece. They visualize the current situation in these countries. We see all the people walking around in masks, deserted streets and crowded hospitals with patients. We can conclude that photos confirm the headline – the second wave of coronavirus has begun in Europe.
The article describes the situation in the UK and provides data on new cases of COVID-19 infection and new penalties for non-compliance with quarantine. Speaking about the number of infected people, the author refers to data from the Ministry of Health and the words of UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson. In the first case, we can easily check the information by visiting the government’s official website. Authorities intend to pay 500 pounds to people with low income, if they can’t work from home during the quarantine, this information can be verified. On Boris Johnson’s official Twitter account from 20.09.2020 we see that Boris Johnson retweeted the news from the official page of the UK Ministry of Health, thus the news is true.
Information about the situation in the UK takes up about half of the entire article. One paragraph was allocated to tell about Germany, Portugal, Iceland, France and Spain. The article tells about the number of COVID cases and the newly introduced restrictions. In General, the news says that the situation in Europe is getting worse.
The author refers to various European media: The Daily Telegraph, Deutsche Welle, also to Robert Koch Institute data, but didn’t give any links.
Izvestia (from 28.10.2020)
Second article at Izvestia.ru “Boiling point: EU countries on the threshold of a new lockdown” by Maria Vasil’eva also describes the situation with the coronavirus in Europe. The article is bigger and divided into 2 blocks. The author explains what measures have already been taken in European countries. For example, in Spain, the government approved the introduction of a curfew, France is preparing to declare a nationwide lockdown, in Italy, restaurants were banned from working after 18:00, gyms and cinemas were closed.
The author refers to worldometers.info website to provide up-to-date data and tells about the situation in Italy. In the country an absolute anti-record for the entire time of the pandemic recorded. Italians are dissatisfied with the new way of life and take to the streets to protest, this statement supported by a photo.
Then the data for Germany is given, also illustrated with a photo of hospital. Local residents are dissatisfied with the restrictions and hold demonstrations. The second section of the news tells about the situation in France, UK and Ireland. Restrictions are being tightened in all countries and countries are preparing for a new quarantine. At photos we see people in masks, that confirms the basic idea-restrictions in European countries.
In this article, as in the first (by “Russian gazette”), there is no author’s summary, the material is based on a list of facts about the situation in different Europeans countries.
“RIA Novisti” (from 23.09.2020)
The third article “Published a forecast of the spread of the second wave of COVID-19 in Europe” tells that Scientific Reports journal presented a mathematical model of the second wave of COVID-19 development. The article accompanied by a single photo that is not related to the topic of the article.
The third article doesn’t have a specific author, the publication is simply signed by the site. It says that according to the results of modeling, the peak of the second wave will occur in the period from July 2020 to January 2021, and the number of infected people will be even greater than the first. An approximate peak is given for each individual country: France and Norway in mid-to-late September, Italy in mid-October, Finland in late October, the UK in early November, and Sweden in early 2021.
It is also explained that the actual epidemic situation in some countries differs from the model’s predictions. We can note that the third article didn’t contain a comment from an expert. So, we can say that this is the “dryest” material. There is also no author’s output at the end.
Thus, we can note the stable interest of Russian media in the development of the situation with COVID-19 in Europe. Attention is focused mainly on statistical data on COVID cases, as well as on the measures taken by the government, and the negative reaction of citizens. The most informative, with the largest number of photos, as well as hyperlinks to sources, is the “Izvestia” article, but also this article tries to emphasize the destabilizing moments in every possible way (reflected in the title and in the lead).
RIA Novosti has the most neutral title and tone of the entire article, and also the article notes the adequacy of measures taken by some countries to contain the epidemic and the awareness of citizens.
Author: Marina Nazarova, South Ural State University, Chelyabinsk, Russia
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