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1.
JMIR infodemiology ; 2(2), 2022.
Article in English | EuropePMC | ID: covidwho-2101748

ABSTRACT

Background Achieving herd immunity through vaccination depends upon the public’s acceptance, which in turn relies on their understanding of its risks and benefits. The fundamental objective of public health messaging on vaccines is therefore the clear communication of often complex information and, increasingly, the countering of misinformation. The primary outlet shaping public understanding is mainstream online news media, where coverage of COVID-19 vaccines was widespread. Objective We used text-mining analysis on the front pages of mainstream online news to quantify the volume and sentiment polarization of vaccine coverage. Methods We analyzed 28 million articles from 172 major news sources across 11 countries between July 2015 and April 2021. We employed keyword-based frequency analysis to estimate the proportion of overall articles devoted to vaccines. We performed topic detection using BERTopic and named entity recognition to identify the leading subjects and actors mentioned in the context of vaccines. We used the Vader Python module to perform sentiment polarization quantification of all collated English-language articles. Results The proportion of front-page articles mentioning vaccines increased from 0.1% to 4% with the outbreak of COVID-19. The number of negatively polarized articles increased from 6698 in 2015-2019 to 28,552 in 2020-2021. However, overall vaccine coverage before the COVID-19 pandemic was slightly negatively polarized (57% negative), whereas coverage during the pandemic was positively polarized (38% negative). Conclusions Throughout the pandemic, vaccines have risen from a marginal to a widely discussed topic on the front pages of major news outlets. Mainstream online media has been positively polarized toward vaccines, compared with mainly negative prepandemic vaccine news. However, the pandemic was accompanied by an order-of-magnitude increase in vaccine news that, due to low prepandemic frequency, may contribute to a perceived negative sentiment. These results highlight important interactions between the volume of news and overall polarization. To the best of our knowledge, our work is the first systematic text mining study of front-page vaccine news headlines in the context of COVID-19.

2.
JMIR Infodemiology ; 2(2): e35121, 2022.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2098984

ABSTRACT

Background: Achieving herd immunity through vaccination depends upon the public's acceptance, which in turn relies on their understanding of its risks and benefits. The fundamental objective of public health messaging on vaccines is therefore the clear communication of often complex information and, increasingly, the countering of misinformation. The primary outlet shaping public understanding is mainstream online news media, where coverage of COVID-19 vaccines was widespread. Objective: We used text-mining analysis on the front pages of mainstream online news to quantify the volume and sentiment polarization of vaccine coverage. Methods: We analyzed 28 million articles from 172 major news sources across 11 countries between July 2015 and April 2021. We employed keyword-based frequency analysis to estimate the proportion of overall articles devoted to vaccines. We performed topic detection using BERTopic and named entity recognition to identify the leading subjects and actors mentioned in the context of vaccines. We used the Vader Python module to perform sentiment polarization quantification of all collated English-language articles. Results: The proportion of front-page articles mentioning vaccines increased from 0.1% to 4% with the outbreak of COVID-19. The number of negatively polarized articles increased from 6698 in 2015-2019 to 28,552 in 2020-2021. However, overall vaccine coverage before the COVID-19 pandemic was slightly negatively polarized (57% negative), whereas coverage during the pandemic was positively polarized (38% negative). Conclusions: Throughout the pandemic, vaccines have risen from a marginal to a widely discussed topic on the front pages of major news outlets. Mainstream online media has been positively polarized toward vaccines, compared with mainly negative prepandemic vaccine news. However, the pandemic was accompanied by an order-of-magnitude increase in vaccine news that, due to low prepandemic frequency, may contribute to a perceived negative sentiment. These results highlight important interactions between the volume of news and overall polarization. To the best of our knowledge, our work is the first systematic text mining study of front-page vaccine news headlines in the context of COVID-19.

4.
J Med Internet Res ; 23(6): e28253, 2021 06 02.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1202100

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Before the advent of an effective vaccine, nonpharmaceutical interventions, such as mask-wearing, social distancing, and lockdowns, have been the primary measures to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Such measures are highly effective when there is high population-wide adherence, which requires information on current risks posed by the pandemic alongside a clear exposition of the rules and guidelines in place. OBJECTIVE: Here we analyzed online news media coverage of COVID-19. We quantified the total volume of COVID-19 articles, their sentiment polarization, and leading subtopics to act as a reference to inform future communication strategies. METHODS: We collected 26 million news articles from the front pages of 172 major online news sources in 11 countries (available online at SciRide). Using topic detection, we identified COVID-19-related content to quantify the proportion of total coverage the pandemic received in 2020. The sentiment analysis tool Vader was employed to stratify the emotional polarity of COVID-19 reporting. Further topic detection and sentiment analysis was performed on COVID-19 coverage to reveal the leading themes in pandemic reporting and their respective emotional polarizations. RESULTS: We found that COVID-19 coverage accounted for approximately 25.3% of all front-page online news articles between January and October 2020. Sentiment analysis of English-language sources revealed that overall COVID-19 coverage was not exclusively negatively polarized, suggesting wide heterogeneous reporting of the pandemic. Within this heterogenous coverage, 16% of COVID-19 news articles (or 4% of all English-language articles) can be classified as highly negatively polarized, citing issues such as death, fear, or crisis. CONCLUSIONS: The goal of COVID-19 public health communication is to increase understanding of distancing rules and to maximize the impact of governmental policy. The extent to which the quantity and quality of information from different communication channels (eg, social media, government pages, and news) influence public understanding of public health measures remains to be established. Here we conclude that a quarter of all reporting in 2020 covered COVID-19, which is indicative of information overload. In this capacity, our data and analysis form a quantitative basis for informing health communication strategies along traditional news media channels to minimize the risks of COVID-19 while vaccination is rolled out.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/epidemiology , Data Mining/methods , Mass Media/statistics & numerical data , Public Health/methods , Social Media/statistics & numerical data , Health Resources , Humans , Pandemics , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification
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