ERIC Number: ED245235
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1984-Aug
Reference Count: 0
Media Coverage of a Blizzard: Is the Message Helplessness?
To determine the media's role in hazard awareness, a study analyzed the content of media coverage of the 1982 Denver, Colorado blizzard, the worst storm in that region in 70 years. Data were collected from the two major daily newspapers and from four television stations. The study period began on December 21, about 48 hours before the first real storm warnings were issued, and continued through January 21, 1983. Results showed that Denver television stations and newspapers disseminated 1,366 separate stories--977 television stories and 389 newspaper articles--in some way related to the blizzard. There were relatively few analytic stories and fewer still investigative pieces. The majority of the stories concerned the disaster impact and the immediate post-disaster emergency response. While the style and content of the media blizzard coverage were highly event-oriented, the media paid little attention to the larger issues of community preparedness, coping, and hazard mitigation that the event raised. Thematically, the media tended to emphasize crisis, powerlessness, and individual helplessness. While a substantial minority of the stories portrayed individuals as capable of mitigating the hazard impact, the majority of the stories portrayed the individual--and even local government--as helpless against the onslaught of nature. (HOD)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Colorado (Denver); Media Role
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (67th, Gainesville, FL, August 5-8, 1984). Funding for this research was provided by the Natural Hazards Research and Applications Information Center, Institute of Behavioral Science, University of Colorado.