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Reporting from the front line: the role of health workers in UK television news reporting of COVID-19

Kyriakidou, Maria ORCID:, Morani, Marina ORCID:, Soo, Nikki and Cushion, Stephen ORCID: 2021. Reporting from the front line: the role of health workers in UK television news reporting of COVID-19. Lewis, Monique, Govender, Eliza and Holland, Kate, eds. Communicating COVID-19: Interdisciplinary Perspectives, Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 41-58. (10.1007/978-3-030-79735-5_3)

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COVID-19 has placed at the forefront of public debates the work of health professionals, especially the doctors and nurses who have been at the front line of the battle against the pandemic. This chapter explores how this work and health workers’ experiences have been reported on UK television news and the role they have played in public understandings of COVID-19. Empirically, the chapter combines content analysis of the evening news of the five main broadcasters in the United Kingdom over April and May 2020 with a diary study of 200 research participants conducted during the same period. We argue that the inclusion of health professionals in news reporting is important to illustrate the severity of the crisis and provide trustworthy information to the public. At the same time, participants’ diary entries reveal the pitfalls of media reporting from the front line of hospitals, such as emotional overload and compassion fatigue, as well as privacy and ethical concerns. In this context, the chapter argues, the extent to which health workers become the focus of media coverage, and the ways in which their experiences are reported, are important but also complicated choices for journalists covering the global pandemic.

Item Type: Book Section
Book Type: Edited Book
Date Type: Published Online
Status: Published
Schools: Journalism, Media and Culture
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
ISBN: 9783030797348
Last Modified: 10 Nov 2022 10:54

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