Bad Tidings: Communication and Catastrophe

By Lynne Masel Walters; Lee Wilkins et al. | Go to book overview

Preface

In the 1970s, a book collecting research about the mass media and their role in disasters would have been unimaginable. Five years ago it would have been almost impossible to compile. With just a few noteworthy exceptions, including work by Henry Quarantelli and Joseph Scanlon, both of whom are contributors to this volume, the entire field of disaster- media research has developed in just the past few years.

Indeed, this mushrooming research development is one of the reasons for this book. Although much of the work in "disaster studies" was begun by sociologists and geographers, psychologists and communications scholars in recent years have assumed a more dominant role. The result is a variety of research informed by different disciplines with different theoretical frames. The debates in disaster research now range not only between those who study "natural" as opposed to "technological" hazards, but between different epistemological approaches, some of which treat the mass media as tangentially important, whereas others view the media as a major player in the hazard mitigation game.

This book, then, is an attempt to compile a somewhat ecclectic view of research on mass communication and catastrophe. The editors have attempted to provide a sampling of the most recent empirical work on the mass media and disasters, including everything from content analysis of media reports to studies of audience response to those events. Imbedded in this research, most of it informed

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