In this analysis of news articles, the researchers conclude that mass media news reports in China lag behind the development of COVID-19.
Initially, the Chinese media did not cover the first cases of COVID-19 in December 2019. News reports steadily increased and then rapidly increased at the end of January 2020 suggesting that mass media cannot capture an infectious disease outbreak in time to be a leading indicator of the epidemic. News reports lag behind real-time coronavirus developments, indicating that the media does not play an adequately forewarning function in public health communication. Mass media also conveyed misinformation, which induced fear, anger, and sadness among the public. Therefore, government and mass media need to determine suitable news themes with less harmful mental pressure, accurate information, and amount of information to disseminate to keep the public alert.