Research with a distinct civil and social perspective
One key area of this communication is mediated communication. Media and journalism have pivotal roles in society’s crisis and risk management. Traditionally, radio, television and daily newspapers have monitored and reported on emerging risks and threats, and they have informed the public how to protect themselves and seek help. These days, social media also form a major communication and information channel. Parallel to this, the media help define our perceptions of risks, crises and disasters, as do politicians and the concerned authorities, and this affects how the public interprets and perceives measures to mitigate crises and risks.
Strategic crisis and risk management is based on gaining the public’s trust, which in turn determines the legitimacy and room for manoeuvre afforded the concerned decision-makers. The advent of digital technology has had a profound effect on the conditions for society’s crisis and risk communication. Digitalisation affects the news media in terms of both their work methods, in that we are seeing an accelerated news flow, interactivity and the convergence of different formats, and their role as purveyors of information before, during and after a crisis. The formerly mostly one-way flow of information from the authorities via the news media to the public has been replaced by network communication in which social media are used by the authorities to communicate directly with citizens, and by citizens to communicate directly with each other. This presents new conditions for society’s crisis and risk communication, as well as for who has the prerogative in interpreting information and through which channels it is distributed.
For four decades, JMG has researched how authorities, media and citizens have acted and communicated in conjunction with risks and crises affecting society. JMG’s research on crises and risks has a distinct civil and social perspective, touching upon issues concerning crisis and risk communication with a point of departure in theories of democracy, power, culture, technology development and adaptation, norms and institutions. Issues that have received particular attention from the research groups concern media use by the public and the authorities in conjunction with risks and crises affecting society, trust in the authorities and media, and journalistic work methods. The conducted studies include case studies and analyses of longitudinal changes, comparisons of editorial environments, and comparisons of countries.
The research is characterised by intimate dialogues with the concerned authorities and editorial environments.
Central themes in research on crisis and risk communication
- News evaluation, news narratives and editorial practices in conjunction with different types of social crisis.
- The authorities and their strategic crisis and risk communication.
- Public reactions to crises and risks, communicative practices, information channels and media use in conjunction with crises.
- The importance of communication and the media in society’s transitions between normality and crisis situations, as well as between different crises situations. The focus here is on issues of trust, responsibility and recovery, as well as how society learns from crises and crisis management.
- How the emergence of digital and social media changes the conditions for society’s crisis communication, and how new media technologies are used by authorities/organisations, the media and the public during crises.