Department of Media Studies presents study at the Citizens' Campus of the TU Ilmenau

As part of their presentation at the TU Ilmenau Bürgercampus, which took place in Ilmenau on Friday, November 18, 2022, Johanna Radechovsky and Kath-rin Schleicher presented first impressions from their survey study around the communication of public health authorities and organizations during the Covid 19 pandemic. 

The Senior Citizens Academy at the Technical University of Ilmenau, which was founded in 2006 and is now the TU Ilmenau Citizens Campus, is an open continuing education program for all interested citizens from Ilmenau and the surrounding area. 

In front of an interested audience, Kathrin Schleicher and Johanna Radechovsky, research assistants at the Department of Media Studies at the TU Ilmenau and members of the International Crisis Communication Research Group, explored the questions of how the risk and crisis communication of German governmental authorities and health care organizations was coordinated during the COVID-19 pan-demic at the federal, state and local levels, what problems were encountered and how, in the view of the respondents, these can be better managed in the future. 

In addition to the MIRKKOMM research association and the work of the International Crisis Communication Research Group, which was founded in 2001 by Prof. Dr. Martin Löffelholz at the Institute for Media and Communication Studies at the Technical University of Ilmenau, they also presented the special features of the COVID-19 pandemic, which serves as the MIRKKOMM association's research scenario. The pandemic has a particularly large investigation potential because it cannot be investigated with standardized investigation procedures due to its novelty, fast-moving nature and uncertainty. The research association is addressing this challenge by combining and further developing a variety of survey methods and perspectives.

In order to pursue the guiding question of MIRKKOMM, how to prepare for and manage crises in a complex public sphere, communication can be improved in the future in a communicative interaction of authorities, media and other public actors, Johanna Radechovsky and Kathrin Schleicher also presented first impressions from a survey of representatives from the most important institutions such as the RKI and the Corona crisis team, but also from the state chancelleries of selected federal states and from health offices and administrations of counties and independent cities. In this way, they made it clear to the audience that the project permeates the entire federal system of Germany. 

The team is currently finalizing the field phase of this first sub-study and can look back on an extensive sample of over 50 interviews with representatives of the authorities.  

Although the interviews have not yet been scientifically evaluated, Kathrin Schleicher and Johanna Radechovsky concluded their presentation with first impressions from the survey.  The interviewees reported that the authorities mostly acted in newly established crisis teams and working groups and tried to strengthen networking within the houses, but also between the authorities. The municipalities in particular emphasized their intensive cooperation. To ensure transparent, understandable and rapid communication with the population, many of the organizations surveyed expanded their web presence and opened new social channels, which were intensively visited during the peak of the pandemic. Among the critical weaknesses of communication cited by respondents were a lack of preparation for crisis situations, an unclear distribution of responsibilities and the sometimes contradictory statements from the federal government.