The New Normal: Crisis and Communication In the Age of COVID-19


Evan McAliceFollow


Communication Studies

Second Major

Writing and Rhetoric


Nikolaos Poulakos

Advisor Department

Communication Studies




New Normal; paradigm shifts; media; communication


This project tackles a self-reflexive question posed to us by the event of the global COVID-19 pandemic disrupting routine patterns of everyday life - what are we observing, understanding, or communicating by describing our changing reality as “the new normal?” I explore how this seemingly simple phrase points to serious complications in understanding how a major event disrupts understanding itself, and how this phrase represents a struggle to elucidate our current communication context or new mediated situation specifically.

Because disruptive events bring on new structures of how we are connected and novel ways to look at them, my project participates in this approach as its method. Instead of a more conventional research paper where a student looks at texts, I explore alternative means of connecting with media theorists and entangling myself with ideas of disruption. I interview three professors in various media fields to see how COVID-19 might be imagined as a reflection of society’s collective reaction to change. I synthesize these interviews into videos that explore the undefinable nature of paradigm shifts, the relationship between internal and external forces, and the implications of the rifts in trust between traditional media and its audience. I juxtapose this with a conspiracy chart that signifies the counterintuitive search for truth during crises that often lead to further confusion. And I place this all in a context of a website that displays a duality in media as a resource of understanding, using a stabilizing and familiar space to hold elements that are unstable in nature.

Streaming Media

Media Format