We compared avian influenza coverage in two English-language newspapers from China and Hong Kong, and a third from the United States as a control. We collected bird flu stories for one year between July 1, 2006 and June 30, 2007 from China’s government-sanctioned China Daily (CD) and Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post (SCMP). The New York Times (NYT) was the control. We quantified five media characteristics: (1) Number of stories; (2) Use of full articles or briefs; (3) News sources; (4) Story outlook, and (5) geographic focus. Of 236 bird flu stories, 79 were from CD, 111 from SCMP and 46 from NYT. Compared with SCMP, CD produced significantly more briefs, non-local reports and government sources (Pearson’s Chi-square test, P=0.01, P<0.001 and P=0.01, respectively). Compared with the NYT, CD produced significantly more reports from government sources (P=0.001), and SCMP produced significantly more local reports (P=0.006). Avian influenza coverage is significantly different between newspapers from China and Hong Kong. This has implications to the international community when considering public health news reports of emerging disease outbreaks from this region.
Key words: Avian influenza, bird flu, H5N1, infectious diseases, media, news coverage, news stories.
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