9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN08 Disaster and Social Crisis

2009-09-03 13:30:00 2009-09-03 15:00:00 Thursday, 3 September 13:30 - 15:00 Disaster, Risk and Communication Building AA, AA.226

Effects of the Media Communication in Crisis Catastrophe Situations

Along the evolution of the scientific studies on the mass communication, has come supporting that the relevancy of the role of the mass media in general, and especially the influence that they exercise on the conformation of the public opinion, reaches such dimensions that "an explanation of the collective conduct in the current society is not possible without resorting to the media" (Roda, 2001: 1). So, this idea reaches a crucial importance when the object of the media communication it is constituted by situations specially relevant by the social and political instability that generally involve, like the crises and the catastrophes (Ruano, 2005: 221).
In fact, the named by Ulrich Beck (1998) as risk society, where the mass media occupy a preponderant place, the informative treatment granted to this type of events, as well as his reception and assimilation by the population, constitute key factors for the maintenance of a social and political context suitable and favourable around the institutional management of this type of situations. In this context, the social and political relevancy reached by the paradigmatic case of the ship Prestige, sunk opposite to the Galician coasts in November, 2002, seems to have been determined principally by two fundamental factors: a) the social role played by the mass media that covered the Prestige case, and b) the attitude and cognitive effects reached by the contents and information that have been transmitted by these mass media.
In this line, from the empirical results derived from several researches and based on three theoretical models of reference on the analysis of the effects of the media communication (extracted from Mass Communication Research), we analyze which has been the degree of power exercised by the media during the coverage of the Prestige case: a) a strong power; b) a limited power; or c) a accumulative power, as well as the different types of effects that the media contents could have reached on the conformation of the attitudes, opinions and/or behaviors of the population affected by the catastrophe: a) effect of persuasion; b) effect of reinforcement; c) effect of construction of the reality.