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The Importance of Digital Media in Local Public Space Crisis Management – Poland, UK, and Italy

Speaker: Ilona Biernacka-Ligięza

Moderator: Tony Curzon Price

December 10th, 2020, 15:30-16:05 CET

Report by Ruben Sansom

Key Words: Crisis Communication, Pandemic, Local Government, National Government, Fake News

Presentation summary

During the pandemic, communication between national and local governments was in many cases unsatisfactory in the eyes of the local government officials. The information they received from national governments was at times inaccurate or untrue, resulting in some local officials feeling as though they were being manipulated by the national government. A finding which may be connected is that trust in local media was higher than trust in national media during the pandemic.

About the project

- This project on crisis communication is part of a larger project which Biernacka-Ligięza is working on. This project is focussed on comparative studies of the communication at a local level between the community, the local government and the local media. The element on crisis communication was included in response to the COVID-19 developments.

- The research is based on both qualitative and quantitative research. Key questions it aims to answer are:

  • Are digital channels the most important channels of communication?

  • How do regional and national communication relate?

  • Does digital media increase citizens’ awareness about the pandemic and improve their participation?


The research finds very similar results in Poland, the UK and Italy, which suggests that the research may be relevant for Europe as a whole.

Limitations and risks of the approach

The crisis communication element of the project is focussed solely on the COVID-19 crisis. Other crises may be different in nature and therefore also provoke different results.

Key takeaways:

1. Local government representatives in multiple European countries highlight real difficulties in communication between national government and local government during the pandemic. The information sent from national governments to local governments was not always accurate or true.

2. The number of comments under the articles on local news sites has significantly increased during the pandemic. It more than doubled in most cases.

3. During the pandemic, trust in local media was higher than trust in national media


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