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How Covid-19 has impacted print media [news and social media analysis]

The impact of Covid-19, this year, has been felt in South Africa across multiple industries. From hospitality and tourism, the shift to online education and employment, people around the world have seen how Covid-19 has changed what once was normal.
Covid-19 also highlighted the need for change in certain sectors, and all things online and digital have been accelerated throughout the pandemic. One such sector to have experienced this rapid change is the media industry. With a number of publications announcing closures or a move to digital, Meltwater, the global leader in media monitoring, tracked and analysed news and social media to explore the impact that Covid-19 has had on this particular industry. The answer, the data seems to indicate, is not the end of print media, but rather, a ‘new normal’ for the media industry.

Saying goodbye to a beloved print magazine

In April 2020, South Africans said goodbye to independent media house Associated Media Publishing (AMP), following challenges it faced due to Covid-19. This resulted in the closure of magazines such as Cosmopolitan SA and House & Leisure.

South Africans shared their appreciation for the much-loved Cosmopolitan magazine, with online users sharing their “#CosmoAppreciationTweet” posts after news of the magazine’s closure.



Trending themes that emerged from online users engaging with “#CosmoAppreciationTweet” include:
  • ’last covers’, which refers to a tweet from a former Cosmopolitan SA employee sharing the first and last Cosmopolitan SA magazine covers.
  • ’great content’, which refers to online users sharing their thoughts on the content and information that the magazine provided.
  • ’influencer issues’, which refers to some online users sharing how the ‘influencer’ edition of the magazine was one of their favourites.
  • ’love & support’, which refers to a tweet from @jennifer_su who shared a post remembering special moments that she had with the team.

Trending themes on social media for #CosmoAppreciationTweet between 1 April and 14 July 2020
Trending themes on social media for #CosmoAppreciationTweet between 1 April and 14 July 2020
click to enlarge

While the closure of the print magazine was a sad one for many, the overall sentiment surrounding the Cosmopolitan SA name was predominantly positive with 85% of social media mentions on ‘#CosmoAppreciationTweet’ highlighting the positive impact the magazine had on its readers.


The goodbye from the beloved magazine was a bittersweet moment as the last person to grace the magazine’s cover was Miss Universe 2019, Zozibini Tunzi.

Shared on social media on 22 April 2020, the hashtag “#CosmoxZozi” garnered a global social media reach of over 28 million people, with top posters, by reach, engaging with the hashtag including ‘@boity’ and ‘@DJZinhle’ on Twitter and ‘Cosmopolitan SA’ on Facebook.

Global social reach on #CosmoxZozi on 22 April 2020
Global social reach on #CosmoxZozi on 22 April 2020
click to enlarge

While Cosmopolitan SA went out in fashionable style, the impact of Covid-19 on print media has seen more local magazines close their chapters or make a move to being strictly online. But with social and physical distancing measures still in place, not only in South Africa but also globally, what could be next for remaining publications?

A ‘new normal’ for print media

In April 2020, instead of using models and celebrities for its cover, Vogue Italia opted to have a plain white cover for the first time in the history of the magazine.

Over 1,000 global news articles mentioned ‘Vogue Italia’ during the month of April, with Italy naturally dominating much of news media mentions, followed by the United States of America and Russia.

Global heatmap of news media mentions on ‘Vogue Italia’ between 1 and 30 April 2020
Global heatmap of news media mentions on ‘Vogue Italia’ between 1 and 30 April 2020
click to enlarge

Much of the global news media mentions on ‘Vogue Italia’ began to question the impact that the coronavirus has had on the fashion industry, and how that has translated into fashion magazines, such as Vogue. This particular edition of the magazine, however, gained an overall positive response from the global news community. Articles mentioned how this magazine cover managed to speak volumes, using the colour white as a symbol of hope, to honour frontline workers during this time, and a blank canvas to determine the ‘new normal’ in a post-Covid world.

Sentiment on global news media mentions on ‘Vogue Italia’ between 1 and 30 April 2020
Sentiment on global news media mentions on ‘Vogue Italia’ between 1 and 30 April 2020
click to enlarge

Vogue Italia’s magazine cover was not the only topic of discussion in the news during April. With self quarantine and stay-at-home regulations in place, the magazine also enlisted supermodel, Bella Hadid, for a photoshoot created and styled via FaceTime.

Some of the trending themes that emerged from this particular Vogue magazine issue include:
  • ’Instagram’, which refers to the magazine using their Instagram account to share how they created this particular photoshoot without Bella Hadid or the stylist physically present in the same room
  • ’FaceTime’, which refers to the platform used for the photoshoot in order to still maintain social and physical distancing measures.
  • ’fashion industry’, which refers to what the ‘new normal’ could look like in a post-Covid time for this particular industry.

Trending themes on ‘Vogue Italia’ in global news media between 1 and 30 April 2020
Trending themes on ‘Vogue Italia’ in global news media between 1 and 30 April 2020
click to enlarge

While Covid-19 may have impacted the print industry in a way that sees a faster move to digital media, it has also created an opportunity for a ‘new normal’ within the industry that sees creativity still shine in its print pages - both online and offline. Publications have been hit hard by the global pandemic, but it has also seen print media take on creativity in a fresh way that will truly change the industry.

With this change, though, comes another digital innovation within the print industry. Meltwater is now providing print and broadcast content, monitoring and tracking to the African market. This allows Meltwater to provide a complete 360° solution that covers 1,150 print and 70 broadcast sources in Southern Africa, a true game changer for the remaining print publications looking to gain better insight into the impact of their content.

For a free demo of the Meltwater platform and ad monitoring capabilities, click here

Source: Data gathered by Meltwater between 1 April and 14 July 2020.



About Meltwater

With 20 years of experience in the field of online media monitoring, Meltwater is a global leader in media intelligence and social analytics solutions, helping to bridge the gap between public relations, communications and marketing departments with an all-in-one solution powered by AI-driven insights. Over 30,000 of the world’s most respected brands rely on Meltwater to help inform their marketing and communications strategies and executive decision making.

With over 55 offices across six continents, Meltwater is a truly global partner with local customer success teams. Meltwater also supports the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST), a nonprofit organisation devoted to nurturing future generations of entrepreneurs.

For more information, follow Meltwater on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn or visit www.meltwater.com.

23 Jul 2020 12:23

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