We pursue the specific analysis of the media coverage profile towards the Japan disaster right in the aftermath of the event, where there is a lot of incertitude about the final extent of the damages and casualties. In the Japan earthquake case there is the specificity of the nucelar crisis still active after the explosion in the Fukushima nuclear plant, analysed in our precedent post.
Concerning the update of the media coverage of the Fukushima blast counting with news up to six hours after it happened, our empirical results indicate that the media profile is basically the same as the one presented in the precedent post.
In this post we want to show how international media reacts to the Japanese massive earthquake and tsunamis, in comparison with recent natural disasters, that we have also monitored in the past using the approach developed by MRI Universidad de Navarra. Remember that the main aim is to compare media approach to Japan disaster in comparison with the results that we have obtained concerning the initial revelations of Wikileaks, that have shown in the precedent post.
We want to show to the readers of this blog to which extent media content profile of natural disasters share similar patterns.
We will compare in this post the initial media reaction to disasters, using news published in the same day that the natural disaster happens and, like with the Japanese earthquake and tsunami yesterday, there is a lot of confusion, unconfirmed data, and ongoing events.
First we compare yesterday news about Japan earthquake with the Haiti earthquake of Janauary 13 2010. Even if the magnitude if the quake was 7.0, it was soon clear that there could be a lot of human casualties due to the degree of destruction in the cities.
Both relates of devastating earthquakes share the same media profile concerning the brand vector “Tragedy”. Haiti earthquake exceeded Japan in the components tragedy, catastrophic and horrible, while Japan clearly dominates about the component worst.
The second disaster to be compared is the Chile earthquake in the Maule region, by Febraury 27, 2010. This was also a massive earthquake of 8,8 points, also followed by a deadly tsunami. Chile relate was similar to that of Japan as it was soon pointed out that infrastructure and housing was designed to suffer quakes. This saved a lot of lifes, but at this very early stage there was media conmotion because of the violence of the seism.
Our empirical results show that media coverage given to Chile was roughly identical to the Haiti case. Compared to Japan, Chile coverage insisted more on components tragedy, catastrophic and horrible.
Third example is Turkey earthquake, occurred in March 8, 2010, with a magnitude of 6.1 points. Initial media reaction told about a number of human casualties (57) which were actually lower with official final numbers.
We find again that Turkey earthquake in Elazig is really similar to Haiti and Chile. In comparison to them, there is lower level of association to the components already outlined: tragedy, catastrophic and horrible. They are in fact in line with Japan earthquake media coverage.
The conclusion after this empirical analysis of how media in English has covered three different natural disasters is quite clear: there is a strong common pattern. Natural disaster news seem to follow a common storyline at least at the initial stages right in the aftermath of the catastrophe. This result discards that media coverage profiles generated by the brand vectors proposed by MRI Universidad de Navarra are purely factual or unable to capture the content profile of the news analyzed.
Now we check these results about the common media coverage given to natural disasters by comparing them to other recent tragic events with a human origin. We have selected two cases of tragedies resulting in several deaths in accidents provoked unitentionally. So, we do not compare here a natural disaster against a criminal action resulting in killed people (like the Tuscon shooting or the Libyan Civil War). Our two examples are the Love Parade Stampede in Duisburg, Germany, that caused 21 victims in July 2010 in the one side, and the Polish Air Force crash near Smolensk (Russia), where 96 people died, with the Polish President and other elite from politics and economy, in Aril 2010.
Results concerning the Love Parade stampede media coverage show that the accident was associated to several components of vector “Tragedy”, specially concerning awful and failure. But we can also clearly observe that it does not follow the clear and systematic media pattern followed by all natural disasters events. Except for failure, Japan earthquake association to “Tragedy” is higher than for the Love Parade treatment.
Media coverage of the Polish national tragedy with the Tupolev crash is also associated to “Tragedy”, but again in a different perspective than the natural disasters. The vector most associated to tragedy for the Polish disaster is harm. Again, Japan is more associated than the Polish plane crash to “Tragedy”. Love Parade and Polish crash share points in common, but maintain their own specificities.
Our conclusion after showing these two additional cases of human tragedies is again that the strong common media coverage pattern shown in all natural disaster related news correspond to the internal logic of the storyline of this kind of event, that the methodology that we propose is able to capture.