The Imaginary of an Invisible Enemy: The SARS-CoV-2 Virion on the Spanish TV News


  • Isidro Jiménez-Gómez
  • Jaime López-Díez
  • Gema Bonales-Daimiel


During epidemiological crises, tradi­tional media have played an essential informational role. In this paper we analyze the imaginary of COVID-19 and, specifically, of the representa­tion of the virion of the SARS-CoV-2 virus through news reports from the main Spanish TV channels. This virion, represented as an “invisible enemy” that has confined half of the world population, is presented in the news using 3D illustrations that highlight its roughened surface and elongated spikes ending in tentacles, an image that does not cor-respond to scientific illustrations. These and other attributes suggest that the imaginary of COV­ID-19 has inherited the imaginary of other previous episodes of coronavirus­es being not scientifically accurate but motivated by the journalistic objective of representing the main characteris­tics of the virus and the severity of the danger. Keywords: visual communication, health risk communication, television news, COVID-19, pandemic.    

Author Biographies

Isidro Jiménez-Gómez

Complutense de Madrid University (Spain)

Jaime López-Díez

Complutense de Madrid University (Spain)

Gema Bonales-Daimiel

Complutense de Madrid University (Spain)