Have Newspaper, Will Travel?



Media Coverage Analysis - SARS, Asia 2003

In the early days of the outbreak, tourism industry experts voiced concerns that despite the relatively low number of cases, the story might be overplayed by the media. Now the toll is up but the coverage is down.

Stories of surrendering Iraqi leaders, rescued Coalition POW’s, and looting in the streets are plastered on screens of televisions hosting 24-hour news networks.



Since November 2002, there have been 3235 cases of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) reported world wide.33 Deaths resulted in 154 instances. While the majority of cases have been in Asia, Canada and the U.S. have cases in the triple digits.

Fear of the disease led people in heavily-struck areas to don surgical masks to avoid contagion. Some tourists are taking another preventative measure: avoiding the regions entirely.
“A survey of U.S. companies released Wednesday shows nearly 30 percent of corporations whose employees make frequent trips to Asia have banned travel there,” a CNN story reported. 25


Based on observation, it seems that the media have not devoted as much time to SARS as they might have, were they not preoccupied by Iraq. It would be unfair to speculate about how the story would be covered during a slow news season but it is something to consider.




Copyright © 2003

Heather M. Edwards

Last Updated 4/16/03

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