Positive communication in a catastrophic crisis : the mixed effects of COVID-19 on the tone of Canadian governments’ media coverage
Article [Accepted Manuscript]
Is part ofInternational journal of media and cultural politics ; vol. 17, no. 1, pp. 69-79.
Crisis management strategies have taken a new significance amidst the COVID-19 crisis. In Canada, while the tone of media coverage of political leaders is usually stable over time, the pandemic has provoked variation that provides an opportunity to test the effect of leaders’ crisis management strategies on the tone of media coverage. Using a unique dataset of online front-page articles from 11 Canadian media outlets, an automated textual analysis, and a regression discontinuity design, this paper estimates how Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Quebec Premier François Legault’s COVID-19 early crisis management affected the media coverage devoted to them. Results show that Legault’s crisis management had a short-term positive effect on his media coverage, while Trudeau’s effect is null. These findings raise questions about the link between media, decision-makers and public opinion.