The first post about the disaster in Japan showed the initial media perception about the earthquake and the tsunami, just few hours after it hit Tohoku Island. In order to provide a key to lecture of the results, we showed media perception concerning the vector “Tragedy” in comparison with some recent natural disasters: massive earthquakes in Haiti (2010), Chile (2010) and Turkey (2010). We observed a clear common pattern in terms of initial media coverage perception. We compared media profile about Japan disaster in comaprison with human made disasters, and we found out that media perception was completely different, even if both are perceived as “Tragedy”.
This post will expand the analysis of media perception about massive natural disasters. We will compare the evolution of media perception during the initial four weeks after the earthquake both concerning Haiti and Japan. These two events are comparable in many facets, as for massive physical destruction and huge amount of human casualties. Each event present also its particularities. Haiti earthquake was not that severe in terms of enegergy, but was by far more destructive because of bad preparedness of this caribbean country to major seisms. Haiti earthquake completely collapsed the country economy, as it affected the capital, and it is considered the poorest country in the Americas. Haiti needed internatial aid and relief services, as it does not count with the required means. The aftermath of the Japan disaster was more related than Haiti to international economic and business consequences, as Japan is a key market in many areas, not only as consumer, but also as produced. Devastation in Japan was linked to the effects of the tsunami, that didn’t affect Haiti. Finally, Japan is suffering from a severe nuclear crisis derived from the tsunami, which of cours was not present in Haiti media coverage.
We count with media coverage of both events in a daily basis, as we count with a similar information with many other relevant crisis. Results concerning Haiti and other events are not published, but the stroage of these data allows us to use it now in order to better understand global media coverage of Japan disaster.
We open our empirical analysis by showing the time evolution of media perception of Haiti earthquake, week by week, concerning first the vector “Tragedy”.
Our results indicate that while media perception keeps basicalay the same profile, there are some noticeable movements. Comparing the initial stage to the following weeks position, we find that it increases notable the degree of association to horrible. Remember that news in the weeks following the earthquake referred to the increasing and the unprecedented number of victims. In the initial weeks there is an increase of association to components tragedy and harm, but it tend to decrease to initial stage after four weeks.
Next figure shows the same result, but applied to media coverage of Japan disaster. Comparing initial to final media perception, we find that in contrast with Haiti case, there is not an observable increase of association to component horrible. In fact, it tends to progressively decrease. Other components following a simira decreasing path are catastrophic and tragedy. The component experiencing a sustained increase as weeks pass is worst.
In the next figures we show the comparative media coverage to Haiti and Japan in terms of “Tragedy”, in its evolution week by weeks. The global picture shows clearly that while media treats massive earthquake in a similar way right in the aftermath, the specific profile of each event determine and influence the evolution of media perception.
The dynamics of the relationship of news covering Haiti and Japan concerning the perception as “Tragedy” is revealing. As already mentioned, starting point in both natural disasters are almost identical. But, soon, just after a week, it can be observed a differenciated media trend that will remain in the following weeks: media focus more on components tragedy, harm and horrible when referring to Haiti, while Japan disaster is more oriented to worst and failure. Components linked to Haiti rely on the extraordinary number of death and the suffering and measures to find survivors. Components associated to Japan are based in the fact that the earthquake as one of the most powerful ever (magnitude 9.0), and the association to failure indicates a human made component of the disaster, reflecting the specific profile of news referring to Fukushima nuclear crisis.
The evolution in the following weeks is basically mantained. After three and four weeks (our results refer to cummulative news, and not to week by week news) we observe an increase of association of Japanese disaster with the components harm and tragedy. This result is probably in relation with the approach followed by the Police Agency concerning the estimation of death toll and missing people. In Haiti it was evident since the first weeks that the death toll could exceed 100,000 people death. In sharp contrast, in Japan, the number of people accounted death or missing was submitted to a very conservative approach. Numbers ranged from hundreds to few thousands in week one and two. Numbers increase to more than 10,000 in week three and almost 30,000 people officially death or missing in week four.
The media reputation vector most relevant for analysing the media coverage of a natural disaster is “Tragedy”, and this is why we have provided an extensive analysis. We show now some complementary results concerning other meaningful media reputation vectors.
First reference is vector “Scandal”. This vector is more sensitive to crisis with a human origin. We have shwon several empirical cases, like the impact of AFLAC jokes about tsunami, or the impact of Wikileaks revelations on the reputation of corporations like Chevron or Bank of America.
The initial news content in the aftermath of the earthquake showed a slighle higher association to scandal in Haiti case than in Japan. Bigger difference refers to component emabarrassing. In general, initial news about earthquake consequences did not attach a high level of association to scandal.
Four weeks later, media perception concerning vector “Scandal” is basically unchanged. It does not tend to increase in anyone of two cases. There is a small profiling trend: Haiti case derives to components embarrassing and scandalous, Japan is more associated to corruption. Japan case reveals probably again the incidence of the news profile about the nuclear crisis, Haiti profile shows the urgency created by the needs of a extremely poor country.
Media reputation vector “Respected, Coherent” requires specific lectures according to the framework of each issue covered by the media. It has a different meaning for companies than for people or here for events.
Initial association right in the aftermath of the earthquake show again a very similar media pattern concerning “Respected, Coherent”. The degree of association of natural disasters to this media reputation vector is relatively low. Four weeks after the events, we find that the degree of association has increased in several components when covering Haiti disaster, like compassion, respected, happiness or aspirational. All this reflect that news content about Haiti showed compassion with the extreme suffering of survivors, in desperate need of external aid.
Final couple of figures refer to the media percpetion vector “Institutional”. This is a vector that we show for the first time in this blog. Media perception of a company, people, institution, country or event can be associated to any element of a storyline. We use to present in this blog and in our analysis those vectors that can be considered more relevants for reputation, but we can create as many vectors as we want. “Institutional” vector refers to the degree of association to key institutional and political features, like government, democracy, politics or economy.
As natural disasters are geographically related, media covers massive natural disasters using always country coordenates and framing. It is thus not surprising to find that initial media coverage both in Haiti and in Japan show relative big levels of media association in the “Institutional” vector. As in all precedent vectors, we find again that initial media reaction produce basically the same picture in Haiti and Japan cases.
The evolution of media perception concerning “Institutional” four weeks after the earthquake show that the degree of association increases notably in Japan with the components banking and economy. This result clearly indicates the different media perception of the implications and news content when a natural disaster affects a rich country in comparison with media coverage given to economicly weak Haiti. many news about Japan earthquake deal with the assessment of the economic consequences of the disaster for Japan and for the global economy.
The other components of “Institutional” vector are stable, and very similar in both cases.