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Update Ukraine: This is how the war came back into the news coverage

Our last report on Russia's war against Ukraine was titled“How fast does the war disappear from the news”. The data showed that as the war continued, news volume decreased and fewer and fewer new articles were published on the war. But Ukraine was able to break this trend.

Ukraine depends on the attention of Germany and the West as a whole. Continuous reporting keeps the pressure high on politicians to continue supporting Ukraine with weapons. After a steady decline in coverage since the war began in February, Ukraine has now managed to break this trend. Ukraine's Independence Day on August 24 and the announcement of partial mobilization in Russia mark new interim highs in the number of articles and the number of lead stories. Moreover, even apart from these special events, article volume is on the rise. Ukraine's military successes are also attracting a lot of interest in the news coverage

Thus, the Ukrainians' offensive in the south and east of their country to recapture their territories is helping Ukraine in news coverage. The successes in the war made the topic relevant again. Because on the one hand, of course, there were interesting new developments that could be picked up journalistically, and on the other hand, the tide was also turning from an even fight, to a war in which the Ukrainians could win, rather than just defend. This new narrative was taken up in the reporting.

Lead Stories

While August 24 was still a single outlier in the data, the trend toward more lead stories about Ukraine became steadier from the beginning of September. Every day, the war made it back to the top positions on the news pages, reaching its temporary peak on September 21 with 35 lead articles. On that day, Vladimir Putin announced the partial mobilization and thus, of course, also evoked a lot of coverage. Subsequently, a new tableau emerged at a higher level than in August, although the overall number of lead stories was again somewhat lower.

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The number of articles developed in line with the number of lead stories. Between August 24 and September 21, the number of articles increased and subsequently remained at a high level. With Ukrainian successes in retaking their territories, Ukraine was also able to turn the coverage around and bring more attention to their cause again. So the offensive is helping the Ukrainians not only militarily, but also in terms of coverage. The change in narrative from losing participant in the war to successful reconqueror helps Ukraine.

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The changes in the number of articles can also be seen in this weekly view. After weeks of almost only decreasing numbers of articles, the volume of articles rises again very strongly in calendar week 33 and 36. The plateau is subsequently at a higher level than at the beginning of August. So the offensives, and especially the success in the offensives, has not only benefited Ukraine militarily. It has also helped to ensure that the war does not disappear from people's minds and continues to be reported in the press.

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Topics around gas and energy continue to grow

New issues have emerged as a result of Russia's invasion. As a result of the shortage, the topics of gas and energy are heavily in the focus of coverage. The volume of the reporting has even increased further compared to our last report on Ukraine. Thus, the new topics are not displacing the war in Ukraine. Rather, they seem to be taking place in addition to the war.

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Unfortunately, there is still war in Europe, but finally there is more coverage of it. Because when war disappears from the front pages, it also disappears from people's minds. This development has now been stopped. The offensive of the Ukrainians has helped this in several ways. In addition to the major military success, which is of course central, the offensive has also contributed to more reporting on the war again and to the possibility of further arms deliveries. Thus, the image of a steadily losing nation on the defensive could be turned into an image of a winning nation on the offensive. In this context, the energy crisis no longer displaces the war from the news, but takes parallel place.


For this report, the headlines and teaser texts of five significant publishers in Germany were analyzed from January 1, 2022 to October 16, 2022. The first report covers the period from January 1 to August 23, 2022 . The five publishers are BR24, Der Spiegel, Zeit Online, and These publishers were chosen deliberately because they include both public and private-sector publishers and thus provide a broad picture of reporting.

About this article

Written by Stefan Paulus

Published at: 10/20/2022, 1:00:00 PM

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