A Content Analysis of Newspaper Coverage of Older Adults during the COVID-19 Pandemic in Singapore
3:00 pm
Room 3301 (Lift 17-18), 3/F, Academic Building, HKUST


The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has shed light on the pervasive ageism that exists in our society (Fraser et al., 2020; Vervaecke & Meisner, 2020). Most papers in the past have focused on hostile ageism (Cesari & Proietti, 2020), but COVID-19 has highlighted another type of ageism known as compassionate ageism. During COVID-19, ageism has manifested in many areas, such as social media, newspaper articles, hospitals, and our daily interactions. In this paper, we focus on newspaper articles in Singapore to investigate whether ageism is present in print media in Singapore during the COVID-19 pandemic, and if so, is the type of ageism primarily hostile or compassionate? We also examined the relationship between the development of COVID-19 during the three years and how it affected the portrayal of older people in the newspapers. This study was conducted in Singapore due to its unique media regulations and government systems. Although, Singapore is a democratic country, its media is well known to be tightly controlled and regulated by one governing body and often criticised for lacking press freedom. We analysed a total of 448 newspaper articles using content analysis, from Singapore’s most-read newspaper, The Straits Times, with a readership of more than 2 million for print and digital combined. Our study revealed that ageism is found in almost all newspaper articles but only in a compassionate manner. Hostile ageism is almost non-existent in any newspaper article, and in some rare articles, ageism was not found. The word “vulnerable” is often used to describe older people, deeming them as weak and helpless whilst trying to cope with COVID-19. Furthermore, we did not find any relationship between the number of COVID-19 cases reported during the pandemic and the portrayal of older people.

Room 3301 (Lift 17-18), 3/F, Academic Building, HKUST
Speakers / Performers:
Ms. Rachel Xuan Li LOH