Tracking the Differentiation of Risk: The Impact of Subject Framing in CDC Communication Regarding COVID-19

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Communicating risk amid moments of scientific ambiguity requires balance: Overdelivering certainty levels can cause undue alarm whereas underdelivering them can lead to increased public risk. Despite this complexity, risk assessment is an important decision-making tool. This article analyzes the circulation of the term “risk” in a corpus (74,804 words) of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention communications regarding COVID-19 from January 1 to April 30, 2020. Tracking collocations of the 147 instances of risk in this corpus reveals that experts initially framed risk away from individuals, complicating people’s differentiation between public and personal impacts. Recommendations are offered for how institutions can reframe subjectivity to promote vigilance during pandemics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)94-100
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Business and Technical Communication
Volume35
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2021

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • communicating expertise
  • risk communication
  • scientific certainty

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Communication
  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)

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