During 2020/2021, VA (Public & Science) has been conducting a study to understand how people in Sweden are receiving and interpreting information about the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. The project includes a number of surveys to measure public attitudes combined with studies of the actual media reporting.
The ongoing pandemic presents major challenges for society. Communication is a crucial factor in the response to these challenges. Individuals, organisations and countries are all faced with making many decisions based on a limited but growing evidence base.
Researchers and experts at scientific institutions and authorities, as well as journalists, play a decisive role in what information is communicated to society. News media are central channels for this information.
To understand how people receive and interpret information about the current pandemic, and how this is linked to the way the pandemic is being communicated in the media, VA (Public & Science) is conducting a real-time study, in collaboration with researchers at the Karolinska Institute and Södertörn University.
Key questions being addressed in the study are:
- Which channels are the public using to get information about the new coronavirus and the current pandemic?
- How are the messages in the information interpreted?
- Which channels and actors are perceived to be more or less credible than others in terms of what is being communicated?
- Which actors feature most prominently in the news media (e.g. researchers, government officials, healthcare professionals), and what are the key messages that they are conveying?
- Are there any changes in the responses to questions 1-4 during the course of the pandemic, and if so, what are they?
- What similarities and differences can be found in the reporting in different media channels, in relation to each other and over time?
The study is supported by Anne-Marie och Gustaf Anders Stiftelse för mediaforskning, Karolinska Institutet, LIF – the research-based pharmaceutical industry, Södertörn University, the Wenner-Gren Foundations and the Swedish Research Council.
We are keen to hear from organisations undertaking similar studies in other countries. For more information about the study, please contact Gustav Bohlin, a researcher at VA.