25 Sep 2011

Communication axioms

Some years ago I met emeritus professor Osmo Wiio, the first professor in our field at the University of Helsinki. He talked about the communication laws that he published in 1980 in a book. He gave me the idea to write my own laws. Wiio’s laws show his great sense of humour, and this would be hard to imitate, but I have now attempted to make communication axioms that we will gradually backup by research in this direction. The axioms show my approach to communication by organizations.
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1.             In postmodern society communication occurs in dynamic networks.
2.             In networked communication organizations have lost dominant voice and need to more actively monitor changing contexts.
3.             Many actors compete for attention in market and issues arenas.
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4.             Online communication creates an abundance of data and opinions, but communication is often  only seemingly two-sided and true dialogue is lacking in the social media.
5.             Individuals tend to connect with those they share interests with, which further fragments audiences and creates polarisation in society.
6.             Interactions are difficult to predict but may gain resonance fast and have global consequences.
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7.             Communication professionals need to develop smart strategies to exchange views in an open public debate and negotiate sustainable and inclusive solutions for wicked problems.
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This modern list of statements may inspire to, along these lines, together further develop the field. And if, after all of this, you would like to enjoy (re)reading Wiio’s laws, here are some links: Communication usually fails & A commentary
Marita Vos

24 Sep 2011

The tragedy in Norway

In the middle of this summer of 2011, on July 22th, we were shaken by the terrible news of the Norway attacks, the bomb in Oslo and the shootings on a nearby island. Our thoughts were with the many victims of the tragedy and their families. Because we do research contributing to crisis management and crisis communication, we also wondered what could be done to prevent such matters from happening, minimise damage and help victims in such a tragedy.

Our team of OCPR also had personal reasons to be worried about the bomb in Oslo, as one of our doctoral students has an office nearby. Luckily he sent word that he was okay and not in the vicinity at that time. This doctoral student happens to focus on crisis communication in the case of terrorism and followed all the news carefully. Then we made contact with a member of the international expert panel for our projects working for the Norwegian Ministry of the Interior. He told us he had been on holiday but that the bomb had killed some of his colleagues.

We will not lightly forget what has happened. Was the violence aimed at mass media attention? This should never be a means to an end. It is the definition of terrorism, killing innocent citizens to create fear, chaos and attention. Our team feels even more resolved to contribute, in our research and education, to crisis communication and resilience of communities. In January we will start with two new international research projects, one on community approach in crisis management and another on terrorism-related crisis communication.

Marita Vos