A media visibility analysis of public leadership in Scandinavian responses to pandemics

Olivier Rubin*, Baekkeskov Erik, PerOla Öberg

*Corresponding author

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftartikelForskningpeer review


This paper analyses public leadership in Scandinavia during the latest two pandemics, the swine flu pandemic in 2009 and the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, by compiling and contrasting national proxies of media visibility among pandemic response actors. Concretely, the paper taps into key media databases to develop indicators of how often national leaders and leading health experts are mentioned in Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish media reports about the 2009 and 2020 pandemics.

The study reveals a high degree of continuity of public leadership in Sweden during the two pandemics. In contrast, Norway and in particular Denmark both moved from a predominately expert-driven media presence in 2009 to a much stronger top-down ministerial leadership presence during the 2020 coronavirus pandemic. In addition, Sweden also displays the most balanced media representation of health experts and cabinet ministers during both pandemics. The paper concludes by discussing the pros and cons of the outlined differences in public leadership and the possible practical implications with regards public debate and trust.
Tidsskrift Policy Design and Practice
StatusAccepteret/In press - 10 jun. 2021

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