Master's Seminar "Innovative Communicator Research" at TU Ilmenau Researches Crisis Communication by Governments during the Covid 19 Pandemic

In the winter semester 2022/23, the two-semester module "Innovative Communicator Research" of the master's program Media and Communication Research at TU Ilmenau entered its second round. 

In the seminar focusing on "Government communication of Covid-19" students are involved in research. The students design and conduct an empirical study in the summer semester 2022 as well as in the winter semester 2022/23 and are thus prepared for their subsequent master's thesis. Three groups will work on different questions related to the communication of Covid-19 by governments: 

1. a comparative study of international Instagram posts
2. a content analysis of press releases by German authorities
3. a comparison study of crisis communication plans.

The team behind topic two is supervised by the two project staff members of subproject 2, Johanna Radechovsky and Kathrin Schleicher, and approaches the research project by having the students analyze press releases published by German government agencies, i.e., the ministries, the Robert Koch Institute, and the Federal Center for Health Education during the pandemic. The study period is January 28, 2020 (occurrence of the first Corona case) to March 20, 2022 (cancellation of all Corona measures in Germany). The two students work with a sample size of 375 press releases. In addition to MIRKKOMM, the DFG-funded international research project Decipher, with a cross-national perspective of COVID-19 risk and crisis communication by governments and healthcare organizations, also serves as the basis for the seminar, which is the responsibility of Prof. Martin Löffelholz. 

One of the highlights of the seminar was a guest lecture by American experts Deanna Sellnow and Timothy Sellnow on June 13, 2022, both of whom research and teach at the University of Central Florida in the U.S. and use their knowledge of American government structures, the media system, and the health care system to support the American government. In their guest lecture, they talked about risk and crisis communication and the application of the theoretical IDEA model in the pandemic. Students presented their research tools and received feedback from the two professors. Incidentally, Deanna Sellnow and Timothy Sellnow are not only national experts for the U.S., but are also part of the Advisory Board of the MIRKKOMM project and Mercator Fellows in the DECIPHER project.

Finally, the entire master's seminar "Government communication of Covid-19" in the context of real projects serves to engage students in research. The results of the student analyses will also serve as contextualization of the findings of Subproject 2.