chapter  7
18 Pages

Mediated Disaster Narratives

In a time of calamity, community members and their families struggle not only to regain control of their lives, but also to refute the objective frames of disasters that are offered by corporations, government agencies, and the media (Button, 2002: 144). News becomes the contested

terrain in which a struggle for meaning is often encountered. The way in which the media frames an event strongly mediates how the public thinks about the event-including policy makers, politicians, and other influential parties that play a significant role in shaping and defining our societal responses to disaster. While some may argue that the media may not tell people what to think, the media does have the power to tell people what to think about (Wallack and Dorfman, 1993). The media also literally have the ability to recognize a disaster and legitimize it as an actual event or overlook or dismiss it as a nonevent. Or, as in the case of the Shetland Islands oil spill, if the anticipated media framing of the event fails, the media can abandon the story and go home.