Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2439

Article | Open Access

Media Framing of Government Crisis Communication During Covid-19

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Abstract:  During the early phase of the Covid-19 crisis, televised speeches and press conferences were one of the preferred means of government communication. They emphasized the urgency and severity of the situation and allowed actors to lead news coverage. While in the immediate phase of the crisis these press conferences were also directed at the general public, their original function was, of course, to inform and influence media coverage. The article investigates how government press conferences were received in newspapers in the first phase of Covid-19, answering two research questions: Did a rally-around-the-flag effect occur among journalists during Covid-19? And how did government press conferences influence salience and sentiment in newspaper opinion pieces? To answer these questions, I draw on a unique dataset, including transcripts of all Covid-19 press conferences in five European countries between January and July 2020, as well as opinion pieces from tabloid and broadsheet newspapers. Based on a mix of automated and manual content analysis, the results reveal how factors such as country context, newspaper type, and the progress of a pandemic can influence how the government agenda is reflected in the media in times of crisis.

Keywords:  agenda setting; crisis communication; Covid-19; media framing; political communication; political journalism


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© Lore Hayek. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.