Media Framing of natural disasters in KwaZulu-Natal province: impact of contingency plans

20 Jan 2016

This study explores how the media frame disaster contingency plans which include preparedness, mitigation, response and recovery of the KwaZulu-Natal province before, during and in the aftermath of natural disasters. The province has been stricken by natural disasters. Although newspapers report the disasters they fail to give details of disaster contingency plans that should be available to those who are susceptible to, and the victims of disasters. Based on a content analysis of 114 online newspaper articles between 2000 and 2013 to examine how the media framed the KZN government?s disaster contingency plans. This study concludes that the highest occurrence of disasters (71%) was from 2011 onwards as compared to previous years, and most of these were associated with areas that are susceptible to floods (34%). The findings of the study highlight that the media placed an emphasis on disaster response (41%) over preparedness (24%) and mitigation (7%). The outcomes suggest that newspaper organisations need to appoint a designated reporter responsible for disaster management issues. This is relevant because this study conveys findings that have the potential to persuade government and newspaper organisations to collaborate and to ensure that their officials are multi-skilled and able to cover all phases of disaster management in their articles, in order for these to be understood at all levels of society. This study further adds to the growing body of knowledge regarding quality journalism that meets its objectives.