Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of being joined by a group of six authors and two co-editors to work on our special issue on the theme of Media, Trust, and Science in the Context of the Covid-19 Pandemic. The workshop was organised within the framework of the PERITIA Horizon 2020 project and in collaboration with ALLEA. The issue will be coming out with the Journal of Digital Social Research, with whom I’m really happy to be working on this. More on this project as it develops, but in the meantime, here’s the summary of the theme:
Some of the most heated global discussions of our time directly implicate scientific knowledge claims. As the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic has demonstrated, trust in such knowledge and its implications are as crucial for effective crisis management as the production of scientific knowledge, itself. The first global pandemic during the current media age has revealed how the co-ordinated spread of accurate information relies on media platforms and institutions. Yet it has also exposed how traditional gatekeepers of truth and expertise have been challenged or side-stepped as alternative actors, processes, and institutions have taken the stage in the media and in policymaking spheres.
The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted social media’s role at the interface between science and the public, fostering new and intensified forms of communication about science. However the pandemic has also been a stress test for public communication of/about scientific knowledge with lasting ripple-effects. To what extent has the changing media landscape contributed to (dis)trust in expertise? How do different political contexts shape the dynamics between science, policy, and diverse media publics? And through which processes does the contemporary spread of (mis)information take shape? This special issue brings together current research that addresses these questions around the theme of the ongoing event of the global pandemic. They do so from across a range of geographic and disciplinary vantage points, in papers that focus on multiple media (plat)forms through varied case-study methods.
Together, the articles help to advance empirically-grounded theoretical understandings of how changing media logics and political contestations shape public engagements with scientific expertise. They build the special issue’s intervention into the discussion of what the Covid-19 pandemic can teach us about the role of contemporary media environments in public contestations of science.