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Communication

Prevalence in News Media of Two Competing Hypotheses about COVID-19 Origins

Otago Polytechnic, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand
Academic Editor: Nigel Parton
Soc. Sci. 2021, 10(9), 320; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci10090320
Received: 22 July 2021 / Revised: 12 August 2021 / Accepted: 18 August 2021 / Published: 24 August 2021
The COVID-19 pandemic has been one of the most disruptive and painful phenomena of the last few decades. As of July 2021, the origins of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that caused the outbreak remain a mystery. This work analyzes the prevalence in news media articles of two popular hypotheses about SARS-CoV-2 virus origins: the natural emergence and the lab-leak hypotheses. Our results show that for most of 2020, the natural emergence hypothesis was favored in news media content while the lab-leak hypothesis was largely absent. However, something changed around May 2021 that caused the prevalence of the lab-leak hypothesis to substantially increase in news media discourse. This shift has not been uniformed across media organizations but instead has manifested itself more acutely in some outlets than others. Our structural break analysis of daily news media usage of terms related to the laboratory escape hypothesis provides hints about potential sources for this sudden shift in the prevalence of the lab-leak hypothesis in prestigious news media. View Full-Text
Keywords: COVID-19; coronavirus; SARS-CoV-2; lab-leak; news media COVID-19; coronavirus; SARS-CoV-2; lab-leak; news media
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Figure 1

  • Externally hosted supplementary file 1
    Doi: https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.5108976
    Link: https://zenodo.org/record/5108976
    Description: The analysis scripts, monthly word embedding models of news media content, list of written articles URLs analyzed and the counts of target words and total words per article are provided as supplementary material in electronic form: https://zenodo.org/record/5108976
MDPI and ACS Style

Rozado, D. Prevalence in News Media of Two Competing Hypotheses about COVID-19 Origins. Soc. Sci. 2021, 10, 320. https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci10090320

AMA Style

Rozado D. Prevalence in News Media of Two Competing Hypotheses about COVID-19 Origins. Social Sciences. 2021; 10(9):320. https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci10090320

Chicago/Turabian Style

Rozado, David. 2021. "Prevalence in News Media of Two Competing Hypotheses about COVID-19 Origins" Social Sciences 10, no. 9: 320. https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci10090320

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