International project learns from pandemic for better communication before the next crisis
There is a lot to learn from the pandemic, not least in terms of risk and crisis communication. Bengt Johansson, professor at JMG, University of Gothenburg, is the Swedish representative in the international research project DECIPHER. The aim is to investigate how authorities and the media have affected people's ability to protect themselves against COVID-19 to be better prepared for the next crisis.
The global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic revealed the importance of communication and information flows not only nationally but also across countries. The international research project DECIPHER will investigate how governments, authorities and the media have affected people's ability to protect themselves against COVID-19 in seven different countries: Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Four questions to Bengt Johansson who is a visiting professor at the University of Ilmenau, Germany, who runs the project.
You are one of eight Mercator Fellows in the project – what does that mean?
We will partly contribute our expertise on the development of the pandemic in our respective countries, and partly we as experts in risk and crisis communication will help with everything from research design to publishing research.
Why is this DECIPHER project so important?
It is not often, fortunately, that a crisis affects many countries at the same time. But it allows us to compare how well those in power, authorities and the media have succeeded in crisis communication. In this way, until the next crisis, we will have a greater understanding of how different political and media systems affect citizens' opportunities to protect themselves during a crisis.
What knowledge do you hope to contribute?
Being able to work together with researchers in other countries is always valuable and not least with this network which consists of leading researchers in the field. I hope that I can contribute with knowledge about the Swedish case, not least because the Swedish strategy to handle COVID-19 was internationally talked about both positively and negatively. With my knowledge from all other projects about the pandemic, we will hopefully be able to formulate even sharper research questions and do even better research.
What happens now in the project?
During the spring, we have planned several sub-studies. Now it's time to roll out interviews with governments representatives and government agencies where I will help. Then we will also start comparative analyzes of how the news media covered the pandemic in the seven countries.
DECIPHER is an international research project carried out by the Technische Universität Ilmenau and the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR).
The project will analyze and compare risk and crisis communication from government agencies and the media in seven countries during the COVID-19 pandemic.
2021-2024, researchers from Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States will collect and analyze data to decipher the public sphere of the pandemic and its impact on the population's ability to protect itself against COVID-19.
The project is funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) with approximately 1.8 million euros.
Read more on the research project DECIPHER’s website.