Data during a pandemic

Data play a crucial role in health crises. This project will set out to understand how they are produced, shared and ultimately perceived by the public.

  • Project description

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    The first step will be to identify the key indicators and data used by journalists and how these evolve as materials for framing reporting on the health crisis. Qualitative case studies will be used to document journalists’ practices and perspectives. We will then conduct experimental investigations to analyse audiences’ understanding of stories that integrate data, looking for ways to reduce interpretation biases and scepticism. Finally, we will use a collaborative, applied approach to test new forms of data narration and visualisation to strengthen accessibility and comprehension.

  • Background

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    Data and the way they are produced, shared and interpreted can have a major impact on the way pandemics and other health crises are managed. Although there were abundant data in the case of Covid-19, the public did not always understand them very well, which occasionally resulted in confusion and resistance to public health measures as well as to disinformation.

  • Aim

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    The project aims to understand how data are produced and used in narratives (particularly by journalists) during a pandemic and also how they are perceived by the public by identifying how confidence in the media, data literacy levels and pre-existing beliefs shape the meaning conferred on them. Measures for improvement will also be proposed.

  • Relevance

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    The results obtained will help foster a better understanding of the place occupied by data in media stories on the Covid-19 pandemic and how these are received. The project intends to identify measures for improvement that will encourage better information during pandemics by taking account of the conditions under which the information is produced and received.

  • Application

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    This applied research project brings together researchers from several disciplines as well as civil society partners – the media, Federal Statistical Office, public health authorities and journalist training institutions – in a bid to better understand and, if necessary, help develop the practices of key actors.

  • Original title

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    Harnessing the potential of data visualization and narratives produced by media and public actors in times of pandemic or health crisis