Journal of Contingencies and Crisis Management

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Salience of public leaders’ “meaning making” in news coverage of a health crisis

Abstract Meaning making by leadership in a crisis is required to reduce uncertainty. We used analytic criteria for meaning making suggested by crisis management literature to investigate public leaders’ quotations in news coverage of a health crisis. The quotations were examined in terms of the five frame functions, which include offering a credible explanation of what happened, offering guidance, instilling hope, showing empathy, and suggesting that leaders are in control. The Middle East respiratory syndrome outbreak in South Korea was examined. As a result, the most salient frame function identified was displaying they are in control of the emergency, followed by offering guidance and explaining what happened. The salience of leaders’ meaning making disappeared in coverage by a liberal newspaper.

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