Getting the Word Out: Effective Communication In a Pandemic

WED, JUL 28, 2021 (1:10:50)

We could see COVID-19 as a common enemy to unite us, yet several responses to the pandemic have resulted in misinformation that creates confusion, hostility and even violence. Antagonism around how we define the crisis caused by COVID-19 inspires outrage toward mask and vaccine mandates, lockdowns, school and business closures.

To make matters worse, global leaders have manipulated information, undermined trust in vaccines, and advanced political agendas by politicizing public health responses.

Heidi Legg, Fellow at Harvard University Future of Media project, will moderate a panel discussion with Peggy Slasman, VP of of Public Affairs at Massachusetts General Hospital, Dr. William Schnaffer, Professor of Preventative Medicine and Infectious Disease at Vanderbilt School of Medicine, and Jonas Kaiser, Ph.D. Associate at Harvard Berkman Klein Center and Assistant Professor at Suffolk University. Together they will consider how effectively public health information and policy has been communicated by governments, public health officials, media, and civic organizations, as well as ways to combat misinformation as we make our way through the pandemic.

+ BIO: Dr. William Schaffner

Dr. William Schaffner is a Professor of Preventive Medicine in the Department of Health Policy as well as Professor of Medicine in the Division of Infectious Disease.

+ BIO: Peggy Slasman

Peggy Slasman is the Vice President for Public Affairs at Massachusetts General Hospital

+ BIO: Jonas Kaiser

Jonas Kaiser is an Affiliate at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, Associate Researcher at the Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet & Society, and DFG Research Fellow. His research is located at the intersection of digital and political communication. Jonas’ research interests are online extremism, public sphere theory, online misinformation, and digital methods. He is currently working on a book for Oxford University Press on how the far-right in Germany and the United States is (ab)using the internet’s affordances.

Jonas earned his Ph.D. (Dr. phil.) at Zeppelin University for his thesis about climate change skepticism in Germany. His work has been published in journals like International Journal of Communication, Communication and the Public or Environmental Communication and has been featured in German as well as U.S. news media.

+ BIO: Heidi Legg

Heidi is an American/Canadian writer and journalist. Today she interviews visionaries around her in Boston and Cambridge where she weaves together these big thinkers in their fields, using a singular long-format interview, much like The Paris Review. From here, she gathers these visionaries together for live events to discuss ideas around disruption, new eras, realities and utopias. A cofounder of, a producer and host of documentaries and television programs on the arts, and an early Internet strategist in both San Francisco and Toronto, Heidi spent 20 years in media. She is enamored with what makes character. Her debut book, My Evangeline, is on sale at the Her work has been published in, The Boston Globe, GlobalPost, TheHuffingtonPost, and WGBH News.

Ford Hall Forum
Politics in the Era of Global Pandemic 2.0