“Guilt and Lies” – Science communication and trust in times of crisis


The communication of science is of fundamental importance to society: Topics such as digitalization are transforming our lives, and climate change is a global challenge of our times. Without the application of the latest research results, it will not be possible to come to terms with these developments. Since research is often publicly funded, scientists have a special duty of legitimacy toward the public. However, the demand for transparency is no simple matter. Research results – and their “translation” appropriate to recipients from various groups of the population – are often complex. In times of crisis, the problem of building trust becomes exacerbated. During the COVID-19 pandemic, for example, legislative measures based on expert recommendations led to a morally charged discourse. This presented science communication with an almost insurmountable task: There was great pressure to justify measures vis-à-vis a highly heterogeneous target group, especially since the factual basis was frequently called into question. Those who now demand a “reappraisal” in retrospect often link this with apportionment of blame.

Korinna Hennig is a science editor at Norddeutscher Rundfunk. During the pandemic, she was the editor responsible for the podcast “Das Coronavirus Update” with Christian Drosten and Sandra Ciesek. Since then, she has dealt with the underlying conditions for (science) communication in workshops, lectures, and panel discussions. She studied German philology, history, and journalism.

38th Bertha Benz Lecture
July 23, 2023
Foyer of SRH University

Korinna Hennig
Norddeutscher Rundfunk