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Makeshift hospital, oxygen and vaccination: how did Kherson media cover pandemic?

14.12.2021, 17:01

The work of the makeshift hopital, shortahe of oxygen and progress of vaccination are the main topics for the media in Kherson covering of the coronavirus and lockdown news.

These are the results of the November monitoring of the Institute of Mass Information. A total of 883 messages published from November 1 to 5, 2021 inclusive on the sites KhersonOnline ,  Khersontsi,  Ukraynsky Pivden,  Khersonshchyna za den  and  Lubimy Kherson , were analyzed.

The research methodology included an analysis of the number of news with number of statistics of disease incidence / hospitalization / mortality, hospital status, vaccination progress, certification and quarantine restrictions. The study also analyzed the news with anti-vaccination content and criminal cases of forgery of vaccination certificates, violations of quarantine restrictions, etc.

WHO COVERED CORONA THE MOST?

11% of news in the Kherson media contained information about the COVID-19 pandemic, but more than half of them were published by one single site.

Most of the 15% of news on the subject of coronavirus contained a newswire on the site "Kherson Online". Most of them were reprints from other media and official information. The site published 58 such news, while other monitored sites put together published less news on this topic during the week (40 in total). On average, the site published 11 news items a day about coronavirus and quarantine restrictions.

The site "Lubimy Kherson" published slightly less news (11.7% of the total number of news) devoted to coronavirus pandemic. Official reports and statistics also prevailed here.

The website "Khersontsi" devoted only 8% of news to this topic, "Ukrainsky Tyzhden" and "Khersonshchyna za den" did 6% of news.

Such a relatively small percent of news about the coronavirus pandemic does surprise even more, as the monitoring period saw a crisis with oxygen deficiency in hospitals, the deployment of a makeshift hospital in Kakhovka and the transfer of city schools to distance learning. But not only these events became news topics.

WHAT WERE TOPICS OF CORONAVIRUS NEWS?

According to the monitoring, we identified eight main topics of all the CORONAVIRUS news.

The local media failed to cover only the one topic : anti-vaccination trends and movements during the monitoring period.

Instead, the most popular news items were oxygen in hospitals  and hospital conditions : 24 news, which accounted for 24.5% of all news about the coronavirus. As we have already noted, this is due to the fact that the Kherson region was the first region to enter the red zone, the number of hospitalized patients increased rapidly and hospitals were on the verge of "oxygen deficiency". The media spoke a lot about it (nine news items in total).

The State Service of Emergencies’s makeshift hospital deployment in Kakhovka took place in late October, but in early November the Ukrainian and Kherson media focused on it. In addition to official information, the media reprinted  UNICEF Ukraine materials on the hospital's work. The hospital topic left behind the vaccination issue. We recorded 21 such news, which is 21.4% of all coronavirus and pandemic news.

The top topics of the week were the government’s decision on suspension of unvaccinated employees and the conditions under which the city's schools will start working offline. The news of the high probability to lose one’s job provoked queues at vaccination centers, which was also reported by  local media.

Slightly less, 20 news (20%) were statistics on disease incidence, hospitalization and mortality. For a year and a half now, official statistics have become a mandatory part of the news of almost all local media.

The attention the Kherson region had toward the ever-increasing statistics of disease incidence and mortality did not reduce during the monitoring week, even if it got somehow stabilized. In addition to official statistics, the local media were actively quoting the  head of the Ministry of Health Lyashko.

The topic of quarantine and its restrictions was no less popular. It was during this period that the next stage of the "covid patrols" activity began, and schools in the Kherson region did not transfer to offline mode, although in most of them, according to official reports, more than 80% of its employees have been vaccinated. It was during the week of monitoring that Kherson educators began to admit that the reason for distance learning was not the coronavirus, but the lack of gas for heating schools. We recorded 16 or 16.3% of such news.

Surprisingly, with a fairly high amount of criminal news in the Kherson media, the offenses related to the pandemic, quarantine restrictions and forged certificates appeared in the news only four times. Even less, three news items, a little over 3%, were covered by the local media for the "Diya" application and certificates.

We added 10 more news to the "other" category. In particular, materials that do not fall into other categories. For example, material with signs of an order from the ex-president and reports of meetings where the issues were discussed, but no decisions or problems were reported.

We sum up that with the rather free attitude of Kherson journalists to the journalistic standards that are usually recorded by our monitors, they covered the topic of coronavirus without excessive emotion and without abusing scoop headlines. As already mentioned, most of the materials referred to official information, which indicated that the media understood the responsibility for covering such a sensible topic.

Serhiy Nikitenko, Regional Representative of the Institute of Mass Information in Kherson region

The writing of this blog was made possible by the support of the American people through the USAID Media Program in Ukraine, implemented by the international organization Internews. The content is under the sole responsibility of the Institute of Mass Information and does not necessarily reflect the views of USAID, the US Government and Internews.

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