Media portrayal of panic buying: A content analysis of online news portals
AbstractObjectives: Media reporting has an influential role in panic buying (PB). We aimed to evaluate the media portrayal of PB during this COVID-19 pandemic.
Methods: We searched, collected, and analysed the news reports from the English media discussing the PB events. The search was done between 23 and 30 May 2020.
Results: A total of 525 news reports were analysed. Approximately half (49.3%) discussed the government action to handle the situation, 36.4% discussed the expert opinion regarding PB, 20.6% discussed the psychology of PB, 21.5% discussed the rumours, and 18.5% suggested remedial measures. Concerning the negative aspects, 96.6% of the titles mentioned panic buying, 75.4% mentioned the cause, and 62.3% mentioned the photos of empty shelves. The media in low–middle-income countries are 1.5 times more likely to include expert opinion (p = 0.03), 2.1 times more likely to discuss rumours regarding PB (p = 0.001), almost thrice more likely to report the cause of PB (p = 0.001), and thrice more likely to mention its impact (p = 0.001).
Conclusion: Media has been portraying more negative aspects of PB. Further, there are variations in reporting patterns between highincome and low–middle-income countries.
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