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NCJ Number: NCJ 197819     Find in a Library
Title: Role of the Mass Communication System in Natural and Technological Disasters and Possible Extrapolation to Terrorism Situations
Author(s): E. L. Quarantelli
  Journal: Risk Management: An International Journal  Volume:4  Issue:4  Dated:2002  Pages:7 to 21
Date Published: 2002
Page Count: 74
  Annotation: After summarizing generalizations about the local reporting of disaster news, this article examines the extent to which these generalizations would apply in mass communication system's (MCS's) approach to terrorism.
Abstract: The generalizations about the MCS made in this article are research-based observations. Research has found that the MCS is a social institution with its own distinctive and interrelated set of beliefs, values, norms, etc. that are only partly shared by the larger society. The MCS does not mirror or reflect all that is happening in the world, because it is selective in what it depicts. This selective depiction of reality apparently provides the most salient information for people about risks, hazards, and disasters. MCS as a social institution is currently experiencing massive social changes that will lead to even more heterogeneity in most dimensions. At the same time, the MCS is often viewed negatively by most people, which in turn makes MCS personnel somewhat resistant to making changes in their work activities. Regarding generalizations from specific studies of local disaster reporting, disaster preparedness planning among local MC organizations is limited and generally of poor quality. Further, MC organizations change their formal structures or division of labor in attempting to report on disasters, with the middle-sized groups changing the most. Also, field reporters have even more autonomy than usual in covering disaster-related stories; and there are alterations in the process of news-gathering, especially by radio/television outlets. Those organizations that provide information about disasters in their communities provide extensive coverage, and localities with multiple MC organizations show considerable variation in disaster coverage. Extrapolations of these generalizations to terrorism suggest that the conflict nature of terrorist events will distinguish them from natural and technological disasters. This introduces a political element into the coverage. Despite this distinction, news reporting about terrorism is likely to involve a magnification of the generalizations identified in this article. Conflict situations may greatly complicate news reporting, but are unlikely to lead to different procedures and outcomes. 44 references
Main Term(s): Criminology
Index Term(s): Disaster procedures ; Media coverage ; Media-terrorism relationships
Type: Issue Overview
Country: United Kingdom
Language: English
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