Communicating Covid-19 cases and deaths: guidelines for media
During a pandemic, people have a right to information. But constant media coverage of restrictions, illness and death is likely to have a negative impact on people’s psychological wellbeing.
A project funded by the Health Research Board and the Irish Research Council will assess what information should legally and ethically be communicated, and provide guidelines for communicating in this pandemic and in future healthcare crises.
What is the issue?
During a pandemic, people need information, but a long-term barrage of negative media reports can reduce people’s psychological wellbeing.
What will the research project do?
The research will look at how Covid-19 cases and deaths have been communicated by media, assess what information needs to be reported and provide guidelines on how to report it without unnecessarily undermining psychological wellbeing.
What will the impact be?
The project will provide evidence-based guidelines for media reporting during healthcare crises, for this pandemic and beyond.
Lead researcher Dr Ingrid Holme, Adjunct Research Fellow, University College Dublin School of Sociology, said: “For over nine months, there has been daily TV, newspaper and social media coverage of the number of Covid-19 cases and deaths. This information has played an important role in promoting public health measures. But it also impacts how we feel and experience our social world. Reporting of specific cases also raises ethical issues around the right to privacy.
By working with the Irish Hospice Foundation, and reaching out to other industry partners, we will be able to provide supportive guidelines for different media and communication channels. This study is also a first step in the documentation of the scale and content of Covid-19 media coverage, paying particular attention to how people have responded to this media content.”
Lead Researcher: Dr Ingrid Holme, School of Sociology, UCD
Dr Ruben Flores, School of Sociology, UCD
Dr Barbara Gornicka School of Sociology, UCD
Prof Gerardine Doyle Director UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School Associate Dean, UCD College of Business, UCD
Dr Kate Frazer School of Nursing, Midwifery and Health Systems, UCD
Dr Sian Joel-Edgar. Aston University, UK
Orla Keegan Irish Hospice Foundation
Prof. Thilo Kroll Health Systems Management. School of Nursing, Midwifery and Health Systems, UCD
Dr Ronald Moore Schools of Public Health Medicine and Sociology, UCD
Sioban O'Brien Gree, Irish Hospice Foundation
Dr Shane O'Donnell School of Sociology, UCD
Dr Claire O’Connell, journalist and broadcaster
Diarmuid Stokes College Liaison Librarian, UCD Library