Communicating risk amid moments of scientific ambiguity requires balance: Overdelivering certainty levels can cause undue alarm whereas underdelivering them can lead to increased public risk. Despite this complexity, risk assessment is an important decision-making tool. This article analyzes the circulation of the term “risk” in a corpus (74,804 words) of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention communications regarding COVID-19 from January 1 to April 30, 2020. Tracking collocations of the 147 instances of risk in this corpus reveals that experts initially framed risk away from individuals, complicating people’s differentiation between public and personal impacts. Recommendations are offered for how institutions can reframe subjectivity to promote vigilance during pandemics.
- communicating expertise
- risk communication
- scientific certainty
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Business and International Management
- Business, Management and Accounting(all)