Coverage Falls, Sentiment as an Indicator of Back-to-Schoolness, Monitor Highs

RavenPack COVID-19 Update | May 28, 2020

In this issue, evidence media attention is declining; can sentiment predict whether a nation’s schools are reopening? And, which countries are hitting extremes on our monitor indexes.

Key Takeaways

  • Evidence increases that the media is losing its obsession with Covid-19
  • We investigate whether news sentiment can provide a guide to whether a country’s schools are reopening
  • The nations that are breaking records in the monitor analytics indexes

Go To Coronavirus News Monitor

The End of the Media’s Obsession with Covid?

The Worldwide Media Hype Index has been trundling lower over recent weeks as the amount of media exposure given to the coronavirus has declined at a worldwide level.

Previously, we highlighted how it fell beneath the 50% level on May 1 and how this was a key turning point given it saw media coverage of the virus fall below half of all news.

The trend has continued, and now Media Hype regularly closes the day below the 50% mark as can be seen on the chart below:

Worldwide Media Hype Declining

The question now is where next for Media Hype?

There is a possibility of further declines. For example, in a previous post we applied technical analysis to the index and suggested the possibility that a break below the 50 level might lead to a fall to 30, based on technical analysis price expectations.

This came about from reading the complex ‘corona-shaped’ topping pattern which formed in March as a type of head and shoulders topping pattern, as shown in the chart below which dates from early April:

Head and Shoulders

If sentiment plays out the way the chart pattern suggests - and we are not saying this will happen, merely discussing it as one possible interpretation - then the index should fall by the same distance as the height of the pattern (X) lower (Y), suggesting we may indeed be experiencing the end of the media’s obsession with Covid-19, and the start of a slide to the next shelf, probably at around the 30% level.

Back-to-School - A Rule?

One question we wanted to answer using the monitor data recently was whether a country’s level of news sentiment could provide a rough and ready predictor of whether its school’s have reopened? It would be expected that higher news sentiment would indicate a greater level of openness, but we decided to run the figures to test the hypothesis to see.

Comparing Covid news sentiment from the monitor to how open a country’s school system turned out to be quite complicated. In a few countries all the children had gone back to school (or had never left) and in some all schools were closed, yet there were a lot of variations in between - how to categorize and differentiate the different policy responses?

In the end we created our own 6 point gauge to categorize how open a country’s school system was, ranging from 1 (completely closed) to 6 (completely open), we then had a basis on which to compare sentiment data. We used the BBC and ISC Research , an international school’s research organisation, for data on national school policy.

The results are shown in the scatter chart below which shows school openness as a function of news sentiment in 33 major economies including the group of G20 countries as well as some additional EU and EEA economies.

Schools Reopenings

Sources: BBC, ISC Research, RavenPack

A quick glance at the chart shows sentiment does seem to have some level of value at predicting school reopening policy.

If a conclusion can be drawn it is that news sentiment can provide a rough and ready indicator or school openness but with the proviso that there are some notable outliers - especially countries where school systems are still closed but sentiment is high.

To explain more about the different points on the openness gauge, ‘1’ represents 100% closed.

‘2’ represents ‘limited’, an example of which would be Russia or Mexico where though the policy is ostensibly open, real attendance is very limited due to self-isolation.

The next level is ‘partial’ which is represented numerically as ‘3’, and an example of which would be Germany where schools have been reopened for “small children and those taking exams”, or Portugal, where “infants and some secondary school children have returned”.

The next level of openness we arbitrarily define as ‘Phased’ and scores ‘4’ in the study. An example of this would be South Korea where seniors recently returned under strict social distancing measures and schools for juniors are being phased in over the next few weeks.

An example of ‘Almost Open’, which scores ‘5’ in our study is Belgium where classes have begun but are limited in class size to only 10 students.

The final level is ‘Open’, which scores ‘6’, and an example of which is Sweden, which never formally closed them or entered a lockdown.

New Record Covid Analytics Highs

In the U.S. Sentiment has risen to a record intraday YTD high of +7.00 on what appears to be a combination of vaccine optimism, FANG led stock market future rallying , and the steady reopening of the economy, with Nevada announcing its Casino’s are open, though hopefully not for a dice with the grim reaper.

The higher sentiment suggests the Covid crisis stateside may be about to ease since sentiment can sometimes give an indication of changes in real world events.

US Sentiment High

In Chile, the Media Hype Index reached a maximum intraday YTD level of 82.53% which means 82.53% percent of all the news about Chile is currently Covid-related. This compares with only circa 45% globally.

This probably has something to do with the high number of new cases the country is experiencing with an estimated 3,964 in the last day, bringing the overall total to 77,961.

It may also be because the country’s principal airline LATAM has just filed for bankruptcy - making it the largest fatality in the region so far.

Chile Media Coverage High

Another south american country Peru, saw its Infodemic Index hit a record high of 91.67% on Wednesday, partly after cases soared to 130,000 in the country.

More precisely, the Infodemic Index measures the extent of contagion to different entities within the country and suggests the disease is becoming more widespread.

Peru Infodemic High

Below is the full list of countries experiencing record highs and lows on various Covid monitor indexes on Wednesday 27th:

  • The U.S, Ukraine, Australia, Bulgaria and Botswana saw year-to-date intraday highs in their Sentiment Indexes.
  • Peru and Cayman Islands experienced year-to-date intraday highs in their Infodemic Indexes
  • Chile experienced a year-to-day intraday high in Media Hype.
  • Somalia, Guinea-Bissau, Malta, and Haiti saw year-to-date intraday lows in their Sentiment Indexes.
  • Taiwan experienced an intraday 3-month high in its Panic Index; Cambodia a three month low.
  • China experienced an intraday 3-month low in Media Hype.
  • The World and Vietnam experienced an intraday 3-month high in Sentiment.

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