In the article “An Analysis of Government Communication in the United States during the COVID‐19 Pandemic,” the authors explore inefficient government communication with people, leading to increasing panic. Effective government communication is critical to overcoming crises and mobilizing public forces. However, during the pandemic, governmental information and communication with the public has been unstable, uncoordinated, and filled with misinformation and contradiction. The authors of the article use the system theory to analyze communication issues of the state and propose different communicative strategies.
The authors perceive a direct communicative act as a consequence of the processes and communication within state systems (different departments, structures, and large interest groups). Errors in contact with society begin with miscommunication within the system, in which the actors could not agree among themselves and develop a unifying strategy. Another mistake was non-compliance with the principles of diversity and openness of the system and insufficient involvement of experts in the response communication (Kim & Kreps, 2020). Thus, problems with external communication always come from unresolved issues with internal communication.
In addition to internal strategy issues, the government has also adopted a didactic strategy in communicating with people, excluding them from the communication. The state refused to receive response information from society and coordinate its actions with the public. Instead, the authorities tried to impose a control measure without explaining possible development scenarios in the early stages of the pandemic, downplaying the danger and duration of the threat (Kim & Kreps, 2020). Consequently, society reacted negatively to the harsh measures in a situation where the government promised a quick disappearance of the threat.
According to the structure of Maslow’s pyramid, in this case, communication with the government was not a manifestation of cognitive needs but directly related to basic physiological and safety needs. Therefore, communication errors have left people in a state of horror, stress, and a desire to act to protect themselves. This situation resulted in increased aggression in society, riots, social clashes, and polarization. Although, with proper communication based on self-defense mechanisms and the need to survive physically, authorities could unite people despite the differences.
Kim, D. K. D., & Kreps, G. L. (2020). An analysis of government communication in the United States during the COVID‐19 pandemic: recommendations for effective government health risk communication. World Medical & Health Policy, 12(4), 398-412.