The virus of fear and anxiety: China, COVID-19, and the Australian media

SAGE Publications
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Global Media and China, 2021, 6, (1), pp. 24-39
Issue Date:
Full metadata record
This article analyses Australian media’s coverage of China’s efforts to contain COVID-19. The article is a critical discourse analysis of the major news stories, documentaries, opinions, and analyses published in the entire array of Australian media, including both television and radio programs from the taxpayer-funded public broadcaster the ABC, commercial media outlets such as Murdoch’s The Australian newspaper and Nine Entertainment’s The Sydney Morning Herald, and several tabloid papers. By identifying the key themes, perspectives, and angles used in these reports and narratives, this article finds that the more credible media outlets have mostly framed China’s efforts in political and ideological terms, rather than as an issue of public health. In comparison, the tabloid media—including commercial television, shock jock radio, and newspapers—have resorted to conspiratorial, racist, and Sino-phobic positions. In both instances, the coverage of China’s experience is a continuation and embodiment of the “China threat” and “Chinese influence” discourses that have now dominated the Australian media for a number of years.
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