Who is spreading the virus? An analysis of TV news coverage of disinformation about COVID-19 in Turkey

Ugur Baloglu


The COVID-19 pandemic characterizes a process that is capable of reorganizing modern institutions with an unprecedented impact in history. In this process, people’s access to accurate information gains prominence. The negative correlation between the increasing volume of information in social media and access to accurate information may canalize people back to traditional media. Would it be correct to say that the news produced in traditional media (particularly in TV broadcasting) does not contain disinformation? This article examines the disinformation in TV news by analysing the news texts about the Coronavirus in the main news bulletins starting from the week when the first case was diagnosed. This paper, which tries to understand how COVID-19 was projected to the society in the early days and thereafter how the society was canalized against the global crisis, analyses at how political power is represented, framed, and how news discourse is constructed in COVID-19 news. The two most-watched news bulletins in Turkey throughout March and August in 2020 (ATV and FOX TV) were examined using descriptive analysis. In the analysis, it was found that the news discourses, which are polarized as pro-government and opposition, are projected in a context that praises or criticizes political power. In the study, it was concluded that the causalities and consequences of the crisis are decontextualized by instrumentalizing and/or tabloidizing.


disinformation; media; populist communication; COVID-19; TV News

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