Reflecting Grief During a Pandemic: Online UK Newspapers’ Reportage and Researchers’ Experiences

Borgstrom, Erica; Sowden, Ryann and Selman, Lucy (2024). Reflecting Grief During a Pandemic: Online UK Newspapers’ Reportage and Researchers’ Experiences. In: Coleclough, Sharon; Michael-Fox, Bethan and Visser, Renske eds. Difficult Death, Dying and the Dead in Media and Culture. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 249–264.



During the COVID-19 pandemic, death, grief and bereavement became dominant news subjects. Understanding that media reportage both reflects and shapes the narratives, cultural ideas and experiences of readerships, we analysed UK online newspapers from Spring 2020 to understand the social discourse in the media at the time. The focus of this chapter is two-fold. Firstly, we describe our document analysis of articles from the top seven most-read UK online newspapers published in Spring 2020 that focused on death, bereavement and grief from COVID-19. We briefly summarise the findings, which have been reported more extensively elsewhere. Secondly, we reflect on the challenges of and techniques for researching a current and evolving situation from our interdisciplinary perspective. Our approach involved collective reflexivity, acknowledging the high focus, intense uncertainty, and rapid publication of articles during the pandemic as well as the personal impact of living through the pandemic and our own grief. Keeping a timeline of key events and regular meetings for group reflexivity aided our focus and analysis of changing contexts. We therefore acknowledge that researching death, grief and bereavement has an emotional toll in the context of document analysis of media reporting.

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