Moral Panics and COVID-19: Are We Panic Ourselves or Do Media Make Us Panic?

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Patama Satawedin


People’s new normal has begun, i.e. how panic people are during the current period of emerging infectious disease COVID-19 outbreak.  According to a moral panic theory developed and created by Stanley Cohen, there are several stakeholders putting people in struggle. Also, one of them who is really powerful and influential is communication and media people.  It was, therefore, curious of whether or not media persons create people’s moral panics about COVID-19 and how media persons make people panic about COVID-19. Printed newspaper headlines were selected and analysed by collecting them from IQNewsClip online database available between 12 January and 10 March 2020 on Bangkok University online database. There were 2,213 cases that met the requirements.  However, 1,704 cases or 77.00 per cent passed the test of intercoder reliability.  The results of the findings revealed that it was media persons who created moral panics about COVID-19 among the publics.  They had presented ways of calling the outbreak, confirmed cases and death and negative effects of COVID-19 on diverse circumstances.  Altogether with this, writing style through the uses of words, sentence arrangement, and marks created more moral panics.  This study contributes for media persons to rethink and reconsider their roles and responsibilities and also for people to reconsider perceived information and facts and not to be susceptible to media reports.


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