Presentation / The Heralds of Government

In March 2020, Czech media were surprised by the coming of COVID-19 pandemic into Czechia. Vis-á-vis a global emergency, they transformed their usual modus operandi. At least for the first few critical days, they became a herald of government. Based on a case study, this paper provides an analysis of public broadcasters‘ main newscast „Události“ during the first weeks of the pandemic in Czechia. The analysis reveals naturalisation and depoliticisation of the crisis and the solutions of it. The paper argues that although the precautions might be necessary, they were dictated to the nation, and they did not go through any public discussion. This reaction to the crisis is not unique and presents a very dangerous lapse of media ethics which may contribute to a severe denial of fundamental civic integrity in the possible future crisis.

The paper relies on Norman Fairclough’s discourse analysis, aiming to be primarily a contribution to media ethics. As the author argues, in Czech media, the traditional paradigm of objectivity („to inform“) is still highly acknowledged and serves even to the vindication of the public service media. The paper instead presents the paradigmatic theory of objectivity (J. Iggers, S. Ward) as both ethically and politically proper.

The analysis was presented on International Colloquium Mediating Change, 20–21 November 2020, Charles University, Prague

The presentation in pdf is available here: