One year of Corona: the media virus

Shortly after the government in Beijing reacted violently with the closure of Wuhan, even by Chinese standards, the KURIER decided on a corona cover for the first time on Sunday, at the suggestion of the cultural director and China expert Georg Leyrer. “The political virus,” read the headline, and inside the paper, Foreign Policy Chief Andreas Schwarz asked what impact Corona could have on international politics. Health Minister Rudolf Anschober said in an interview with Ida Metzger in this issue: “Influenza is the greater risk.”

Then there was another virus break, there was dancing at the opera ball, so everything was fine. Until, on February 20, Mattia Maestri (38) was the first Italian to test positive for Corona (today we know that the virus had long since spread in Europe, also in or via Ischgl). Codogno, a town south of Milan, was closed and the KURIER editorial office was hectic for the first time. It became clear to us: Not long until the virus (most of them still used the male article at the time) would hit Austria. The time had come on February 25th.

Corona was detected in two people in Innsbruck. And the “ZiB” reported live in front of the Grand Hotel Europa that it was locked – while in the background you could see people going in and out.

Since then, the topic has been omnipresent in the media and therefore also in public. And only what appears in the media exists. The rest is quickly forgotten, such as the Asian flu (1957 / ’58, 1–2 million deaths) or the Hong Kong flu (1968– ’70, 1 million deaths; Corona has so far confirmed around 2.5 million deaths) .

But how to deal responsibly with a pandemic that neither the generation of politicians nor the generation of journalists of today has even partially experienced? There was perplexity. And nowhere a clear line.

In the initial phase we tried to take it with a certain ease and designed a Sunday cover that showed stylized viruses. They were colorful and lovely. But what is the title of that? We wanted to call it with a wink “Die Monster AG”. Correctly, there were objections that this would belittle the disease. Ultimately, it became “little monsters” – and we were highly praised by experts for the comprehensive clarification.


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