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Reactions to the coronavirus: a content analysis examining the extent to which media shapes public reactions in response to COVID-19

Faculty Advisor




COVID-19, pandemics, mass media, public reaction

Abstract (summary)

This qualitative study explored the extent to which mass media exposure shapes public reactions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. A purposive sampling procedure was used to employ a content analysis on a sample of 100 of the most recent comments that included reactions towards COVID-19 from a CBC news article. An open-coding procedure was utilized to examine any themes or categories present in the comments, and the frequency of occurrence of any themes or categories were recorded. Results showed that eight categories of reactions were present: Fear, Warnings, Frivolous, Anger, Hope, Inevitable, Science, and Environment. Further sub-categories were identified within the overarching themes of fear, warnings, frivolous, and anger. This study demonstrated that fear is the most prevalent reaction towards COVID-19, keeping in line with existing research that media exposure and its use of fear-mongering tactics play a central role in shaping public reactions in response to pandemics.

Publication Information

Kachulak, T. (2020). Reactions to the Coronavirus: A Content Analysis Examining the Extent to Which Media Shapes Public Reactions in Response to COVID-19. MacEwan University Student EJournal (MUSe), 4(1).


Item Type

Student Article




Attribution-NonCommercial (CC BY-NC)