Participatory Journalism and Crisis Communications: A Swedish Case Study of Swine Flu Coverage

Michael Bo Karlsson


Public relations research has recently explored how the digitalization of the media has affected crisis communications, focusing on such phenomena as corporate websites and blogs. This study first argues that digitalization involving user participation also changes traditional news production and that this affects the frame in which issues and crisis are told and understood. It then empirically explores media users’ influence on news frameworks through a case study of how mainstream Swedish online news covered the swine flu outbreak in 2009, finding that such users were an integral part of the media coverage of that crisis, contributing with a variety of voices that primarily criticized the media’s paradigms. It concludes by discussing these findings’ implications for crisis communications, in particular the impact of crisis communications becoming multidirectional and decentralized through participatory journalism.


participatory journalism, crisis communication, swine flu, online news, audience participation, user-generated content

Full Text: