Political Crisis Communication on Social Media: An Analysis of Possibilities and Challenges of Theory and Practice in Today’s Crises

Sara Rønning-Bæk

Student thesis: Master thesis

Abstract

Political Crisis Communication on Social Media - An Analysis of Possibilities and Challenges of Theory and Practice in Today’s Crises This thesis aims to contribute to addressing the shortcomings in literature concerning digital crisisresponse strategies. Through the last decade the Web 2.0 generation of media has vastly changed the way in which we consume and create information, and this thesis aims firstly to determine whether these new media platforms - Facebook and Twitter - influences the anatomy of the crisis in such ways that it should be revised. The thesis argues that if the new media has changed the cycle of the crisis, this means that the traditional strategies of response and framing would benefit for adjustment to account for the new circumstances. Consequently, it investigates whether and how politicians have been using these platforms to respond to crises. In order to examine the validity of these hypotheses, the thesis firstly utilizes big data analysis to determine patterns in comparison of trending hashtags and articles on three recent crises: #holstgate, #smykkegate and #gyllegate. These patterns show that Twitter conversations to some extend transfer conversation to the traditional media confirming that digital pressure can drive crises. Secondly, a netnographic approach investigates whether digital media platforms create new possibilities for the politician to respond to crisis. Three findings show that new media platforms do in fact give the politician the ability to respond on digital media even before the traditional media newspapers go to print. Even so, the politician show concern to the fact that users engage, especially on Facebook, in determining whether the given response to the crisis is acceptable or not, implying that grasping the platforms’ focus in interaction and dialog becomes important contain the crisis. Finally, the thesis analyses whether big political profiles can bypass the traditional gate-keeper role of the traditional media in their crisis response. In two of the examined cases the analysis confirmed the hypothesis that new media platforms change the traditional framing theory model and the politician is able to communicate the message to the public undisturbed by media translation. The thesis concludes that new media platforms present many opportunities to a politician during crisis and should be examined more thoroughly and this knowledge reflected when applying both response strategies and framing theory.

EducationsMA in International Business Communication (Intercultural Marketing), (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
LanguageDanish
Publication date2016
Number of pages128