Journalists on COVID-19 Journalism: Communication Ecology of Pandemic Reporting

Abstract
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, journalists have the challenging task of gathering and distributing accurate information. Journalists exist as a part of an ecology in which their work influences and is influenced by the environment that surrounds it. Using the framework of disaster communication ecology, this study explores the discursive construction of journalism during the COVID-19 crisis. To understand this process in the field of journalism, we unpacked discourses concerning the coronavirus pandemic collected from interviews with journalists during the pandemic and from the U.S. journalism trade press using the Discourses of Journalism Database. Through discourse analysis, we discovered that during COVID-19 journalists discursively placed themselves in a responsible but vulnerable position within the communication ecology—not solely as a result of the pandemic but also from environmental conditions that long preceded it. Journalists found their reporting difficult during the pandemic and sought to mitigate the forces challenging their work as they sought to reverse the flow of misinformation.

Keywords
media ecology, metajournalistic discourse, coronavirus, crisis communication, COVID-19 communication ecology

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