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Article

Media Representations of Science during the First Wave of the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Qualitative Analysis of News and Social Media on the Island of Ireland

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School of Psychology, University College Dublin, D04 Dublin, Ireland
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Discipline of Public Health and Primary Care, Institute of Population Health, Trinity College Dublin, D02 Dublin, Ireland
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Trinity Centre for Global Health, Trinity College Dublin, D02 Dublin, Ireland
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School of Psychology, Queen’s University Belfast, Belfast BT9 5BN, UK
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School of Medicine, University of Bristol, Bristol BS8 1QU, UK
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Quality Improvement, Health Service Executive, D08 Dublin, Ireland
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Paul B. Tchounwou
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(18), 9542; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18189542
Received: 13 August 2021 / Revised: 6 September 2021 / Accepted: 8 September 2021 / Published: 10 September 2021
COVID-19 is arguably the most critical science communication challenge of a generation, yet comes in the wake of a purported populist turn against scientific expertise in western societies. This study advances understanding of science–society relations during the COVID-19 pandemic by analysing how science was represented in news and social media coverage of COVID-19 on the island of Ireland. Thematic analysis was performed on a dataset comprising 952 news articles and 603 tweets published between 1 January and 31 May 2020. Three themes characterised the range of meanings attached to science: ‘Defining science: Its subjects, practice and process’, ‘Relating to science: Between veneration and suspicion’ and ‘Using science: As solution, policy and rhetoric’. The analysis suggested that the COVID-19 pandemic represented a platform to highlight the value, philosophy, process and day-to-day activity of scientific research. However, the study also identified risks the pandemic might pose to science communication, including feeding public alienation by disparaging lay understandings, reinforcing stereotypical images of scientists, and amplifying the politicisation of scientific statements. View Full-Text
Keywords: COVID-19; coronavirus; pandemic; science; news media; newspapers; social media; Twitter; qualitative COVID-19; coronavirus; pandemic; science; news media; newspapers; social media; Twitter; qualitative
MDPI and ACS Style

O’Connor, C.; O’Connell, N.; Burke, E.; Nolan, A.; Dempster, M.; Graham, C.D.; Nicolson, G.; Barry, J.; Scally, G.; Crowley, P.; Zgaga, L.; Mather, L.; Darker, C.D. Media Representations of Science during the First Wave of the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Qualitative Analysis of News and Social Media on the Island of Ireland. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18, 9542. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18189542

AMA Style

O’Connor C, O’Connell N, Burke E, Nolan A, Dempster M, Graham CD, Nicolson G, Barry J, Scally G, Crowley P, Zgaga L, Mather L, Darker CD. Media Representations of Science during the First Wave of the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Qualitative Analysis of News and Social Media on the Island of Ireland. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2021; 18(18):9542. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18189542

Chicago/Turabian Style

O’Connor, Cliodhna, Nicola O’Connell, Emma Burke, Ann Nolan, Martin Dempster, Christopher D. Graham, Gail Nicolson, Joseph Barry, Gabriel Scally, Philip Crowley, Lina Zgaga, Luke Mather, and Catherine D. Darker 2021. "Media Representations of Science during the First Wave of the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Qualitative Analysis of News and Social Media on the Island of Ireland" International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 18, no. 18: 9542. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18189542

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