August 3rd, 2020

Riding the Second Wave: a media comparison

Australia accepts its second wave in Victoria, unlike the US who may be in denial

With no end in sight for the lockdown in Melbourne, the second wave is now a reality for many Australians. However, the media reporting on the second wave in other countries paints a different picture of pandemic priorities and concerns.

Following on from our pervious article on COVID-19 reporting. In this article, we take a look at the news agenda in countries where the number of COVID-19 cases are still in the danger zone. We investigate if the term ‘second wave’ is gaining any media exposure and compare those findings to our own mediascape.

The power of media monitoring 


Using our media monitoring tool Meltwater, we measure Media Exposure in print and online media for the keyword ‘second wave’.

To begin with, we take a look at the instances of the term ‘second wave’ in Australian news media. It is obvious from the graph below that the ‘second wave’ topic has been one of interest in Australia. However, it is only recently that the topic gained some momentum.

As an example, on 22nd July 2020 it was announced that residents from 27 suburbs in Sydney were no longer permitted entry into Queensland. Therefore a spike in media coverage on the topic ‘second wave’ can be seen in the graph.

Here are the most frequently used words in Australian articles mentioning the ‘second wave’. In particular, ‘Victoria’ and ‘restrictions’ are big standouts in articles discussing the second wave of COVID-19. This showcases how Victoria has been at the centre of the coronavirus conversation. It has also faced much criticism in Australia. Thanks for the reminder, Meltwater.

The situation in the US


Now, we investigate whether the keyword ‘second wave’ is gaining media exposure in the United States and the United Kingdom. If you have been keeping up with the COVID-19 situation in the US and the UK, you will know that the numbers are not looking too good on the death toll front.

Here we measure Media Exposure for the keyword ‘second wave’. As a result we are able to see if the US and the UK have accepted that a second wave might be on the way. Or if the threat is even on the media’s priority list.

In the case of the US, the term ‘second wave’ isn’t a trending theme on the news agenda. This is surprising to see, considering the US has been living out the reality of “what not to do” during a global pandemic.

Here is the Media Exposure graph. With the exception of a “false spike” on 12th June 2020 and in the subsequent days, which is in relation to news about the stock market. The reporting priorities are surprising to see. Especially in a country where the daily death toll remains in the thousands.


Picture source: 


In the Trending Themes word cloud for the US, the keywords ‘deaths’, ‘infections’ and ‘pandemic’ are present, painting the picture of a grim reality.

How the UK are faring 


Looking to the UK next, it is apparent that the term ‘second wave’ has become a hot topic in recent days. As a result of news released on 24th July 2020 indicated that a second wave of the virus could hit the continent of Europe over the next fortnight. Articles appearing on that day call for people to brace themselves and prepare.

Picture source:                                   


Interestingly, and a factor that separates the UK from the rest, is the appearance of the keyword ‘Mr. Johnson’, giving the impression that the media in the UK could be linking his decisions to the possibility of a second wave. Or could they be looking to their leader for answers?




According to some of the articles we looked at, Boris is making a lot of announcements, such as the above.

It has been an insightful exercise to look at what has taken priority in the news agenda of other countries that have not experienced a second lockdown

In the US, mentions of a second wave appeared mostly in articles concerning the US stock exchange. A surprising fact in a population who are still struggling to get case numbers under control.

Arguably the US hasn’t recovered from the first wave of the virus. This could be the reason that reporting priorities lie elsewhere.

In addition, it looks like US leaders are convinced that the country is in a good position compared to where it was four months ago.



In the meantime over on the other side of the pond, the UK continue to live in blissful freedom. Despite this, the media can’t help but report on a threat of a second wave looming over the population.

We will continue to keep an eye on the second wave trend in the news media.

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