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Crisis communication


Media and journalism play a decisive role in society’s crisis management. Traditionally, radio, television, and daily newspapers have sounded the alarm and informed people on how to seek protection and get help. This way, the media have been able to influence or even shape the public’s interpretations and perceptions of emergency measures. The news media have thus largely defined the public discourse on crises and disasters as well as shaping the images of politicians and responsible authorities.

Strategic crisis management builds on the trust of the citizens, which in turn constitutes the very foundation for responsible decision-makers’ legitimacy and scope of action. Digital technology has fundamentally changed the preconditions for society’s crisis communication. Through an escalated news pace, together with the rise in interactivity and convergence between different formats, digitalization has redefined the practices of the news media. The mainly unidirectional flow of information from authorities via the media to the public has been replaced by network communication, where authorities communicate directly with, not to citizens via social media, and where citizens communicate directly with one another. This produces new conditions for crisis communication, as there will now be a competition between channels and communicators as to gain the attention of the citizens and produce the most accepted interpretation of the events.

For almost three decades, JMG researchers have studied the actions and communication of authorities, media, and citizens in connection with social crises. The crisis communication research at JMG has emphasized the perspective of citizens and society, drawing on theories of democracy, power, culture, technological development, technological adaptation, social norms, and institutions. The studies include case studies and analyses of longitudinal changes as well as comparative studies of crisis communication in different countries. The research has been characterized by a close dialogue with responsible authorities and media organizations.

Key themes in the research on crisis communication:

  • News evaluation, news narratives, and editorial practices in connection with different types of social crises
  • Authorities’ and other organizations’ strategic crisis communication
  • The public’s reactions to crises, communication practices, information channels, and media use in connection with crises
  • The significance of communication and the media for society’s transition from a crisis situation to an everyday life situation, as well as between different crises situations. Specific attention is given to questions of trust, responsibility, and recovery, as well as the question of what and how society learns from crises and crisis management
  • How the emergence of digital and social media change the conditions for society’s crisis communication, and how new media technologies are used by authorities/organizations, the media, and the public in crises situations

Crisis communication

Researchers

Research group leaders:
Marina Ghersetti, Docent
Bengt Johansson, Professor
Orla Vigsö, Docent

Researchers:
Monika Djerf-Pierre, Professor
Magnus Fredriksson, Docent
Tomas Odén, Docent
Pavel Rohdin, Doctoral student
Gabriella Sandstig, PhD
Oscar Westlund, Docent

Contact information and personal presentations

Page Manager: Cajsa Malmström|Last update: 9/7/2016
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