This paper analyses English news reporting in Malaysia (New Straits Times) and in the United Kingdom (The Times) over several consecutive months during the SARS epidemic in 2003. While the physical features (word counts, standardised type/token ratio, number of sentences, etc.) of both corpora were consistent (and the two newspapers used mostly the same metaphorical lexis), differing features of the two newspapers were found in the rhetoric meaning. A corpus-based investigation of the presentation of news, selection of lexis, and the foci of reporting during the SARS epidemic is thus proposed. The results show that news from Malaysia focused on patriotism along with an emotional hopeful attitude, while news reporting in The Times seemed to be emotionally detached and less personal, reporting mainly on the fall of the stock markets and cancellations of cultural and sports events. In addition, The Times was found to have often considered manifestations of global economic status and power.