The Media in Disaster Threat Situations: Some Possible Relationships Between Mass Media Reporting and Voluntarism

November 1986 (VOL. 4, NO. 3)

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This research looks at possible relationships between mass media reporting and voluntarism in disaster-threat situations. The setting is a small mid-western city int he United States which was inundated by flood waters in March 1982. Data were collected through interviews with volunteers, organizational and public officials, and the media. Additionally, numerous documents pertaining to the media and volunteers are content analyzed. Observations made on-site supplement the interviews and documents.\r\nThe media are found to have some effect in accordance with the suggestions of dependency theory. The media are also found to have been one of several investigators of increased voluntarism. Conflict arising out of media depiction of the volunteer effort is discussed. Further research on media effects of voluntarism in disaster situations is suggested.