Societies are frequently confronted with disruptive organizational crisis situations, which can have drastic societal consequences.
As communication increasingly plays a role in the escalation and impact of these crises, it is important to explore the communication
between several key actors. Therefore, this dissertation explores the communicative interplay among the organization, news
media, and the public in times of organizational crisis.
The dissertation comprises four self-containing studies of empirical
research, using different research methods - i.e., automated-content analyses, survey among communication professionals and
journalists, and experimental research. The studies provide insights into (1) how the crisis frames of the three actors align
over time, (2) how organizations’ relationships with stakeholders are affected by a crisis, (3) how news media and journalists
determine who gets a voice in the news during a crisis, and (4) the selection of news sources by the public during a crisis
and the consequences of selection for public framing.
Despite differences in size and shape, this dissertation exposed
certain fundamental characteristics in the communicative interplay that seem to hold across different crisis situations. In
general, the findings show how crisis accelerate and scale up communication processes. Nevertheless, in the crucial initial
phase of a crisis, it appears that the communication between the central actors is absent or limited.
However, over time,
the actors approach each other, possibly to collectively define the crisis and ultimately to solve it. Furthermore, during
crises, news media appear to be the central actor in the interaction with the organization and the public.