Media Representations of Science during the First Wave of the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Qualitative Analysis of News and Social Media on the Island of Ireland

Cliodhna O'Connor, Nicola O'Connell, Emma Burke, Ann Nolan, Martin Dempster, Christopher D. Graham, Gail Nicolson, Joseph Barry , Gabriel Scally, Philip Crowley, Lina Zgaga, Luke Mather, Catherine Darker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

COVID-19 is arguably the most critical science communication challenge of a generation, yet comes in the wake of a purported populist turn against scientific expertise in western societies. This study advances understanding of science–society relations during the COVID-19 pandemic by analysing how science was represented in news and social media coverage of COVID-19 on the island of Ireland. Thematic analysis was performed on a dataset comprising 952 news articles and 603 tweets published between 1 January and 31 May 2020. Three themes characterised the range of meanings attached to science: ‘Defining science: Its subjects, practice and process’, ‘Relating to science: Between veneration and suspicion’ and ‘Using science: As solution, policy and rhetoric’. The analysis suggested that the COVID-19 pandemic represented a platform to highlight the value, philosophy, process and day-to-day activity of scientific research. However, the study also identified risks the pandemic might pose to science communication, including feeding public alienation by disparaging lay understandings, reinforcing stereotypical images of scientists, and amplifying the politicisation of scientific statements.
Original languageEnglish
Article number9542
Number of pages22
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Volume18
Issue number18
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 10 Sep 2021

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Media Representations of Science during the First Wave of the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Qualitative Analysis of News and Social Media on the Island of Ireland'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this