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Mass Media in Disaster Management

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Group B: Social Media’s Role in Disaster Preparedness

Social Media presence in this day and age is viral. The media not only covers so called everyday matters but also focuses on world events. Some of the most horrific and widely covered events are disasters. During times of disaster, our populations turn to some form of mass media for information. Few have not used the Internet during severe weather to check for warnings? Few have not turned on the television to check for the last developments or for directions on how to respond appropriately to a disaster? According to Veenema (2013) when asked where people usually turn to for information in the case of a local emergency, in 2007, 61% of respondents named TV; 29%, radio; 6%, the Internet; 2%, newspapers; 1% did not know. This presents the question, what is the role of mass media in the time of natural disasters? Mass media’s presence during disaster can expose a community’s strengths or weaknesses related to disaster preparedness. Media agenda is referred to as the deliberate coverage of topics or events with the goal of influencing public opinion and public policy (Barnes, et al., 2008). In the case of Hurricane Katrina, the gulf coast appeared to be in a panic. The media repeatedly highlighted the flaws in local, state, and federal emergency preparedness procedures. One should note that during this same time, there were many courageous and dangerous rescues made, all of which seemed to be over looked or over shadowed in the media presentation of events. With all the Media attention given to Katrina and emphasis placed on emergency preparedness, one would think that the general public’s attitude and perception would have changed; however, this was not the case. Interestingly enough the experience of Hurricane Katrina did not immediately increase Americans’ personal willingness to prepare for...

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