The Downfall of Covid-19 Crisis Communication in Bulgaria: the role of politics, communication and media quality

Ina, Ivanova (2022) The Downfall of Covid-19 Crisis Communication in Bulgaria: the role of politics, communication and media quality. BA/BSc thesis, BCE Kommunikáció és Szociológia Intézet, Kommunikáció- és Médiatudomány Tanszék.

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One of the most important support mechanisms for governments in the fight against Covid-19 has been crisis communication. However, the Bulgarian government failed to persuade nationals to follow suggested measures and vaccinate. The country is torn apart by deep-rooted vaccine hesitancy and Covid-19 denial, which is fuelled by political instability, conspiracy theories and a lack of faith in the authorities. The present thesis examines how governmental crisis communication, with the support of mass media, failed to prevent those trends, while also studying existing attitudes in the citizens of Bulgaria. The theoretical part covers political and crisis communication and reviews Covid-19 from those perspectives. The works of McNair (2007), Coombs (2010), Kahn (2020) and Lilleker (2021) significantly contribute to its construction. It also reviews commentaries and criticisms of Bulgaria’s Covid-19 communication by journalists and political and media analysts. Several findings were made through a survey targeting Bulgarian nationals, studying their attitudes and opinions regarding Covid-19 and communication within the country. Distrust in the government was found to be prevailing, and respondents assessed crisis communication to be of subpar quality, averaging a 4 out of 10 (on a basic rating scale). Moreover, a whopping 34% of respondents have indicated medical professionals who express doubts about the vaccines or hold partial covid-denial sentiments to be one of their ‘direct sources’ of Covid-19 and vaccine information. Subsequently, vaccine hesitancy was found to be a product of a combination of poor communication fused with widely disseminated misleading information by officials and the mainstream media. To further this research, a study on the Dunning-Kruger effect on knowledge self-assessment could be done, since a majority of the respondents indicated trusting their own judgement. However, those judgements are shown to be influenced by conspiracies later in the survey. Only 25% of respondents indicated believing in the official “confirmed” origin of the coronavirus, having been found in bats and nature, as opposed to other much more prominent beliefs, such as the virus being created for mass control (backed by 41% of respondents). This thesis confirms statements of previous criticism of Bulgaria's crisis communication, made by multiple sources. It will hopefully serve as a sample in other studies concerning the country or other states that struggle with Covid-19 communication.

Item Type:BA/BSc thesis
Subjects:Media and communication
ID Code:15309
Specialisation:Communication and Media Science
Deposited On:26 Jan 2023 11:53
Last Modified:26 Jan 2023 11:53

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