Saleh Al-Salman & *Ahmad S. Haider
The scare caused by China’s sudden coronavirus outbreak turned out to be a global threat. The new virus cases and infections have been spreading fast both in China and abroad, prompting the World Health Organization (WHO) to declare a global health emergency. By analysing a corpus of 16,980 English headlines of Reuters and Xinhua from January 8, 2020, to February 29, 2020, the present study seeks to examine the most frequently discussed topics in this context. It also investigates how China is represented in the headlines of the two news agencies. Informed by critical discourse analysis, the headlines were analysed quantitatively and qualitatively. The representation of the virus in the news headlines of the two agencies reflected differences in the thematic focus. Reuters focused on the immediate and long-term repercussions, serious implications, and consequences of the current health crisis. Xinhua’s reporting, on the other hand, tended to play down the effects of the coronavirus spread on the Chinese economy and highlighted China’s readiness and ability to curb the spread of the disease. The study concludes that the local media’s reporting is geared towards enforcing the “Us vs. Them” dichotomy by highlighting the government’s efforts in fighting the epidemic.
Keywords: Headlines, critical discourse analysis, coronavirus, media agencies, Xinhua, Reuters, China