Media, Representation, Persistence and Relief: the Role of the Internet in Understanding the Physical and Social Dynamics of Catastrophic Natural Hazards.


The number of recorded natural hazards has increased throughout the past four decades and recent events such as the L’Aquila, Italy earthquake and the Sichuan, China earthquake demonstrate the persistent threat posed by such events. When a natural hazard occurs, the ensuing disruption to society is more often than not captured and reported by the news media. Thus, the news media is a valuable source of natural hazard event information. However, much of the previous work utilising natural hazard news media has focused on manual collation and examination of printed news media on a country- or event-specific basis. The Internet allows for real-time communication and broadcasting of natural hazards information and provides an ever-growing archive of the temporal and spatial patterns within natural hazard event occurrence. Thus, an alternative technique of news media collation, using web-based news media sources, is presented throughout this study. Two web-based natural hazard news media databases were created and information pertaining to the temporal and spatial occurrence of earthquakes, floods and landslides over a five year period (2005-2009) was collated. This thesis will examine the data generated by both databases and will focus upon the understanding of the temporal and spatial variability in news media coverage of natural hazard events. Statistical analysis of temporal and spatial trends within recorded news media coverage of hazard events is presented. Analysis of long-term time series data is coupled with an in-depth short-term analysis of individual hazard event coverage. In addition to the statistical analysis of identified trends, this study will explore the characteristics of media response to natural hazards within the context of the wider socio-political climate. It is proposed that the geophysical processes involved within each hazard event type, coupled with event-specific characteristics (fatalities, location etc.), control the subsequent news media coverage of an individual event. A series of natural hazard news media models are presented to show the inherent differences within recorded coverage of natural hazard event types

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Durham e-Theses

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This paper was published in Durham e-Theses.

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