INformation Behavior and Media DIScourse during the COrona Crisis: An interdisciplinary Analysis (InDisCo)

Project Team

Sylvia Jaki, Linguistics, University of Hildesheim (UHI), Germany
Thomas Mandl, Information Science, University of Hildesheim (UHI), Germany  
Renata Baracho, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais (UFMG), Belo Horizonte, Brazil 

Overview

This project intends to analyze the relation between information behavior of individuals and media formats during the Corona crisis from an interdisciplinary perspective. The goal is an understanding of media formats about science and how citizens integrate diverse resources including social media and media formats into their individual information and coping behavior during the crisis. The results will show how public discourse can create positive impact and remain rational.

Project Description

Living in a global knowledge society, citizens have the possibility, and also the obligation, of enriching their knowledge via self-initiated information seeking. Like many other crises, the Corona pandemic is affecting the information behavior of citizens.

As the kind of information people access in a situation like the corona crisis is particularly crucial to their physical and mental well-being and may considerably influence people’s stance towards how the crisis is dealt with, it is particularly necessary to understand individual patterns of information behavior (Fisher et al. 2005). This also includes the quality criteria which users apply in order to select their resources and which determine their preferences (inside or outside standard media formats). In turn, these insights also help to pin down the appeal of so-called “fake science”, which is responsible for some of the misinformation that has been circulated since the onset of the corona crisis.

Information resources in general and media formats in particular differ in the way they portray scientific information. This concerns, for example, the complexity and presentation of information, scientific authority and research processes, as well as the protagonists in the format (Allgeier 2018). During the Corona crisis, it has been obvious that the promotion of rational discourse is not trivial and requires efforts from society.

Our aim is to portray the characteristics of individual information behavior in times of the current pandemic, particularly concerning the German context, but also beyond (taking the Brazilian example into account). We also intend to link this behavior to the characteristics of popular media formats to infer why people might choose specific sources of information in times of a pandemic.