Coronavirus coverage finally falls into the minority

Those suffering coronavirus news fatigue might wish to celebrate this tipping point: there are now more news stories not mentioning coronavirus than stories that do.

It took 77 days, ugly US protests and the return of live sport but coverage of coronavirus has dropped below 50 per cent of news articles produced for the first time since March 13.

Streem data shows that COVID-19 media saturation peaked on March 24 when the virus was mentioned in 81 per cent of stories published that day.

This unprecedented level of coverage compared to a peak of 36 per cent for the bushfires in January.

Since March, coronavirus coverage has been slowly dissipating, but it took until last Friday, May 29 for it to fall below 50 per cent for the first time.

“We’ve hit a tipping point - until this week there were still more stories featuring coronavirus each day than all other stories combined,” Streem analyst Conal Hanna said.

While news publishers enjoyed record audiences in March and April, the level of coronavirus coverage caused them issues when advertisers sought to disassociate their brands from virus stories.

In early April, IAB Australia issued an urgent call for brands, agencies, ad verification firms and others in the digital advertising supply chain to stop blocking pandemic news.

“Credible news and media organisations are seeing huge jumps in online traffic, but many brands are blocking advertising from appearing near content mentioning coronavirus,” says Gai Le Roy, CEO of IAB Australia.

“It’s essential that brands support news and journalism because with this content now so ubiquitous, without advertising support it will be simply unworkable and unsustainable for the production of news content.”

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