RE: [americancomm] Communication Crisis: The Aftermath of Katrina
I think you may be onto something. Because the city was isolated, as was to be expected after a major hurricane, news was sketchy, so it took longer to be aware of what was happening than otherwise. I don’t think it was until Tuesday that most people were aware of what was happening, and the lack of first-hand information made it harder to understand what is happening.
This is a more “practical” discussion of communication – an examination of how information is being disseminated, which I think we often overlook. We examine what is being said, and what lies behind it – motives, hidden messages, etc., but we don’t often examine at how it is used as a vehicle for information. After all, information is useless if the communication is not effective.
On the other hand, I think sometimes, all we do is hear from experts. I don’t even follow the coverage on TV anymore, because most of them are saying the same things. The information is being wasted on us – as you suggest, an effort to direct information better is worth considering. Such as experts to government, and to those who are left out of the information loop – like those trapped in Lake New Orleans .
Then you get into a whole new discussion – examining why the messages communicated aren’t being taken seriously, and why? Is it lack of trust, lack of effectiveness at disseminating information, or what? Certainly, we can, and should, talk about this. It was obvious that officials were concerned pre-landfall about the potential for disaster, and that 80% of the people heard these warnings, and heeded them. But why did the other 20% miss out?
Certainly issues not connected to communication are part of it – lack of transportation or alternatives for housing. But some of it could well have been people either didn’t hear the warnings, or they didn’t trust them. Why?
Anyone have any thoughts?
From: firstname.lastname@example.org [mailto: email@example.com ] On Behalf Of John Malala
Sent: Friday, September 02, 2005 2:03 PM
Subject: [americancomm] Communication Crisis: The Aftermath of Katrina
I have to admit that there has been a leadership crisis following Hurricane Katrina. I agree that the federal government has not lived up to its responsibility.
But, as I watch what's unfolding in New Orleans I begin to wonder whether the current crisis is not also a communication crisis. Should the mass media's role be limited to just reporting the news and telling people what's happening in the disaster areas? Is it not fair to say that at times of national crisis the media should play a more active role of calling on experts and offering them the opportunity to help the federal government with possible solutions to the current crisis? Are we supposed to remain passive communicators?
See for example how the government has now sent 100s of trucks to deliver food to people that have no access to toilets. While it is important to feed those that have not eaten in days, I think the emphasis should be on evacuation. Eventually people will need to use bathrooms after they eat and drink. Are the ideas being communicated well enough to the people that may need them?
As I said early, I know that the government has failed, but I think that communicators have failed as well.
That's my thought.
Prof. John N. Malala, PhD; ED.S; MSMC.; B.S.; A.S.
Media Convergence Initiative, P.I.
Editor, The Great Lakes Research Journal
University of Central Florida
P.O. Box 161344
Orlando, FL 32816-1344