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CHEN CRISIS COMMS

CRISIS COMMUNICATION IN EXPLANATORY AND ALTERNATIVE JOURNALISM OUTLETS 

Project Lead: Dr. Sibo Chen
Emerging Researcher: Sarah Ostapchuk

This project explores coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic in varying media outlets through the lens of crisis communication. The goal is to compare The Conversation with other alternative media in terms of how they have covered COVID-19 as a global public health crisis, as well as its economic, social, and political impacts. The principal research question is whether The Conversation, as an explanatory journalism platform, offers a an approach to risk communication that is distinct from other alternative media sources, such as non-commercial, grassroots, and counter-hegemonic outlets like Rabble, Tyee, and National Observer. 

Preliminary findings indicate that there are identifiable thematic trends across outlets correlated with time of publication. Articles published earlier in the year tended to communicate numbers and statistics and took on a more mainstream, “breaking-news” format, whereas those published later focused more on recovery, sustainability, and overall social change. When compared to other alternative media, The Conversation tended to be much more focused on communicating science, information, and making academic linkages to the current crisis. Notably, the perception of risk was high in articles with earlier publication dates but decreased in those published later.