Monday 6 April 2020

How it started: Evolution of The Straits Times coverage of the 'Wuhan virus' in one month

Nowadays, it seems that the news is nothing but the coronavirus. Of course, it wasn't always like this.

This was how it started:

January 1

The first Straits Times print report of the virus was on New Year's Day under World Briefs on page 15:
Sars-like outbreak suspected in Wuhan

BEIJING Chinese experts are investigating an outbreak of a respiratory illness in the central city of Wuhan that some have likened to the 2002-2003 outbreak of Sars (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome).

The city’s health commission said in a statement yesterday that 27 people had fallen ill with a strain of viral pneumonia, seven of whom were in serious condition. However, the health commission said the cause of the outbreak was still unclear and called on citizens not to panic. ASSOCIATED PRESS
It was a very small story.

See if you can find it on the page.

Two days later...

January 3

January 4

Four days into the new year, Wuhan was on page 1 but only as a side story with more reports on page 8.

January 5

First suspected case in Singapore, but it's just a small story on page 1.

January 6

No virus news on page 1, just a report about the "Wuhan flu" in Hong Kong at the bottom of page 4.

January 7

Back on page 1 but still a small story with another report on page 9.

January 8

Just one foreign report on page 11.

January 10

Shockingly, no news about the virus at all.

January 11

Second suspected case in Singapore and it's reported on page 4.

January 12

Just one foreign story on page 8: China reports first death.

January 13

No news about the virus at all. Zero. It would not happen again.

January 14

Small virus story on page 1 as first case outside China is reported.

January 15

Only foreign reports for the next few days.

January 16

January 17

January 18

January 19

Finally, the virus becomes the lead story on page 1 and it hasn't left the front page since.

January 20

January 21

January 22

January 23

January 24

January 25

January 27

January 28

January 29

January 30

January 31

And that's how the virus went from a small world story on page 15 to the only story we care about in one month.