Bad Tidings: Communication and Catastrophe

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

11
Conclusion: Accidents Will Happen

Lee wilkins University of Colorado-Bouldre

By the time this book reaches you -- the reader -- accidents will have happened. The Mexican and Los Angeles earthquakes, continuing hunger in Africa, and the spread of the retrovirus that has become modern humanity's worst plague -- AIDS -- are among the better known.

But, although events themselves become dated, the research outlined in this book does delineate some emerging trends and indicates some paths for further research. The emerging trends can be grouped into two categories: (a) media performance, and (b) the role of the mass media within the larger (usually American) culture. The paths for further research remain somewhat less clear, but certainly center on three basic questions: (a) what is the optimal role of the mass media in warning and mitigation; (b) how do the mass media convey information about risks, and how might they be employed in both natural and technological disasters; and (c) how might the mass media, at least in a democratic society, more accurately reflect the series of choices that disasters and technological accidents pose both to individuals and to social and political systems.

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