How does information, as well as misinformation impact public understanding of the COVID-19 pandemic? Distribution of information in this global crisis is a powerful role: where, how and from whom do people get their information and how does it shape their behavior?
A panel of experts look closely at research happening in real time during the pandemic on the rapid decline in trust in public institutions, public figures, and the media. They discuss the resulting impact on the health of democracy. The panel includes Felice J. Freyer, a health policy and public health reporter at The Boston Globe; Jennifer Kavanagh, a senior political scientist at the RAND Corporation; Jonas Kaiser, an affiliate at Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society; and Shoshana Madmoni-Gerber, an associate professor of Communication, Journalism, & Media and Suffolk University.
Follow the Course: Week #2 Assignment
FiveThirtyEight: One Virus, A World Full Of Responses from FiveThirtyEight Politics
NGA Coronavirus What You Need To Know (compare different actions taken by U.S. States in response to Covid-19)
Washington Post: How Democracies Can Survive Dilemmas like coronavirus
Washington Post: Which Kind of Democracies Respond More Effectively to a Pandemic?
Mischiefs of Faction: To Crack Down on Dissent in Hong Kong, Beijing is Sidelining Local Democratic Institutions
Freedom House Reports:Democracy During Pandemic and Digital Election Interference
Civic Engagement Activity & Reflection
Engage in at least one civic / political event of your choice during the course and document this with a short reflection essay. Try a virtual town or city hall meeting with local or state representatives, a meeting of an activist group, etc. The reflection should draw on readings from assignments and your own additional research. Members of the public who wish to share their reflections should post a link on Twitter and tag @GBHForumNetwork and @supolscilegal.
BIO: Shoshana Madmoni-Gerber
Shoshana Madmoni-Gerber was born and raised in Israel to parents of Yemenite descent. She has a Master’s degree in Communication and Journalism from Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and a Ph.D. in Communication from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. She has worked as a journalist in Israel for several publications including: Yediot Aharonot, Shishi, Hadashot, and Hapatish newspapers, and did research for the investigative show Uvda on Channel Two. She also worked as a researcher and diversity trainer for Adva Center for Equality of Israeli Society.
Shoshana joined the faculty at Suffolk University in 2004, and has been teaching courses in Journalism, Media, and Documentary Film. She is the author of Israeli Media and the Framing of Internal Conflict (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009). This book examines bias within the state of Israel and the media at large, through the lens of the news coverage of the Yemenite Babies Affair.
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: Jennifer Kavanagh
Jennifer Kavanagh is a senior political scientist at the RAND Corporation and director of the Arroyo Center’s Strategy, Doctrine, and Resources Program. Her work focuses on U.S. military interventions, including factors that influence U.S. decisions to intervene and the characteristics that make interventions more or less successful, and U.S. force posture. She also studies military readiness and training, and gender in the military, particularly the integration of women into positions previously closed to them.
Outside of her work for the U.S. Army, Kavanagh leads RAND’s Countering Truth Decay initiative, a portfolio of projects exploring the diminishing reliance on facts and analysis in U.S. political and civil discourse. She is a faculty member at the Pardee RAND Graduate School and also teaches research methods courses as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University.
Kavanagh graduated from Harvard University with a B.A. in government and a minor in Russian language. She earned her Ph.D. in political science and public policy at the University of Michigan.
BIO: Felice J. Freyer
Felice J. Freyer covers health policy and public health for The Boston Globe. She joined the Globe in 2014 after years as the medical writer for The Providence Journal, where she was awarded the “Master Reporter” award from the New England Association of Newspaper Editors. She is a board member and treasurer of the Association of Health Care Journalists.