Knowledge Brokers in Crisis: Public Communication of Science During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Knowledge Brokers in Crisis: Public Communication of Science During the COVID-19 Pandemic

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  • September 27, 2022
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Knowledge brokers are among the main channels of communication between scientists and the public and a key element to establishing a relation of trust between the two. But translating knowledge from the scientific community to a wider audience presents several difficulties, which can be accentuated in times of crisis. In this paper we study some of the problems that knowledge brokers face when communicating in times of crisis. During the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, we collected interviews with Italian experts that played a major role as knowledge brokers in the local media. We asked them questions about five main topics: the features and role of science communicators; the use of language in communicating science; the importance of the relation of trust with the public; the peculiarity of communicating in a context of emergency; the problem of disagreement among experts, and its public perception and communication. The goal of this paper is to understand, through the words of knowledge brokers themselves, what they consider as best practices (and obstacles) to create trust between scientists and the public. Our empirical work can inform normative accounts of what knowledge brokering should be about.

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