Book Publication: Communication Scientist of TU Ilmenau on the Corona Crisis

In the current book "Corona 2020 - Zerreißprobe für die Gesellschaft?" communication scientists from the TU Ilmenau examined the role of the media in dealing with the Corona crisis. In an interim conclusion, they found that the population's assessment of the media's coverage of the crisis was predominantly positive. According to the researchers, this is anything but self-evident, as media scolding on the Internet and open attacks against journalists have increased in recent years. The predominantly positive assessment of the media is of great importance for social cohesion during the crisis. The book is available free of charge online: https://doi.org/10.22032/dbt.48770.

Portraitfoto von Prof. Jens WollingTU Ilmenau/Ingo Herzog
Prof. Jens Wolling - Head of the Group Empirical Media Research and Political Communication

In their book "Corona 2020 - Tear-up test for society?", the Ilmenau researchers led by Prof. Jens Wolling used several representative surveys to investigate how the German population perceives the multifaceted crisis, what feelings and attitudes people develop as the crisis progresses, and how they behave in the face of threats and restrictions. They also analyzed how the population used, perceived, and evaluated media coverage.

A crisis that permeates all areas of public life and does not even stop at people's private lives can acutely endanger social cohesion. Even for a stable democracy like Germany's, the Corona crisis is dangerous explosive. The explosive cocktail consists of an incalculable overload of the health care system combined with massive encroachments on previously self-evident rights of freedom and the danger of a severe economic recession and considerable social upheaval.

Despite the explosive initial situation, "society in Germany largely held together during the first year of the crisis", is the summary of the communication scientists at TU Ilmenau. The vast majority of the population placed trust in the media during the crisis and considered the reporting to be correct and therefore credible. The Evaluations by the research team make it clear that throughout the first year of the crisis, the journalistic media largely succeeded in meeting the expectations of citizens and providing them with trustworthy information. According to the researchers, this achievement is also of great importance for society's ability to cope with the crisis.

However, the interviews also revealed some critical points. A majority of respondents felt, particularly with regard to the social aspects of the crisis, that policymakers were doing too little and that the media were reporting too little. Accordingly, the question on expectations for the further development of society after the pandemic revealed that respondents would like to seea policy of socio-ecological renewal: more social justice, more environmental protection and clear limits to an unbridled market. All in allthe Corona crisis should be used for social change. The strongest support is for a future blueprint to improve our lives in a modern, developed society: Better education and health care systems, fast Internet, and, with trade-offs, a boost in consumption.

By contrast, backward-looking positions of populist revisionism find far fewer supporters. A policy of isolationism and the ideologically motivated overemphasis of individual rights over collective responsibility do not enjoy majority support in Germany. Instead, according to the Ilmenau researchers, the Corona pandemic has the potential to trigger a social awakening that could help break down social encrustations.


The team of authors consisted of the communication scientists of the TU Ilmenau Jens Wolling, Christoph Kuhlmann, Christina Schumann, Priscila Berger and Dorothee Arlt.


Prof. Jens Wolling

Head of Group Empirical Media Research and Political Communication

+49 03677 69-4654