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The media's role in using disaster relief reduction for political gain

Table of contents

List of Figures
List of Tables
1. Introduction
Existing Approaches to Disaster Risk Reduction                                        
Implications of the Third-Person Effect Model                                           
Structure of Enquiry and Presentation
2. The Third-Person Effect Model
Disasters and Response Exhaustion                                                            
Prospect Theory and the Recouping of Losses                                            
Sufficient Versus Necessary Causes                                                           
Media and the Public Will to Act                                                               
The Third-Person Effect                                                                             
News Media, Audiences and Localization                                                 
Rational Political Leaders and the Political Will to Act                            
The Full Third-Person Effect Model
Media Engagement and the Creation of Opportunities for Disaster Risk
Framing, Prospect Theory and the Overvaluing of Held Assets                
Implications of Opportunism and the Pursuit of Universalism                  
3. How News Media Set the Agenda: A Taxonomy of Localization
Localization and News Production                                                            
Analytical Approach                                                                                   
Case Selection                                                                                            
Process of Analysis                                                                                    
A Taxonomy of Localization                                                                     
Neutral Localization                                                                                   
4. DRR on the Public Agenda: How Development Affects News Coverage
Is Localization as Common as Believed?                                                  
Patterns of Communalization and Othering                                               
Extending the Analysis: Development and Localization                           
Materials and Methods                                                                               
5. The Public Will to Act: The Effect of News Coverage on Public Opinion
Policy Learning                                                                                          
Democratic Responsiveness and Policy Learning                                     
The News Media and Policy Learning                                                       
Public Opinion and Policy Learning                                                          
Localization and the Public Agenda - Theory and Hypotheses                 
Experimental Design                                                                                  
6. The Political Will to Act: Mandatory Retrofitting Ordinances in Los Angeles
Materials and Methods                                                                               
Structure of Presentation                                                                            
Public Will to Act                                                                                       
Political Will to Act                                                                                    
7. Beyond Plausibility: When the Media Makes it Possible
The Plausibility of the Third-Person Effect Model                                    
Opportunities for DRR Adoption                                                               
Which Events Create Opportunities for DRR?                                          
The Political and Conceptual Logic of Necessary Conditions                   
Beyond DRR Policy                                                                                   
8. Epilogue
Appendix 1
Appendix 1A. Gathering the Newspaper articles.                                      
Appendix 1B. Taxonomy of Localization                                                  
Appendix 1C. Coding Scheme                                                                   
Appendix 1D. Intercoder Reliability Tests.                                               
Appendix 2
Appendix 2A. The Full Experimental Design
Appendix 2B. Comparisons between the Survey Sample and the Californian
Appendix 2C. Willingness to Accept Costs of DRR                                  
Appendix 3
Appendix 3A. Focal Questions for Interviews                                           
Appendix 3B. Recruitment Email for Interview Participants                    


The evidence presented in this book suggests that when the necessary conditions for disaster risk reduction (DRR) are in place, it is possible for elected officials to pursue DRR policies in their rational self-interest. As such, when the media makes it possible through lesson-drawing coverage of distant disasters, DRR policies become much more likely in observing communities because elected officials can seize the opportunity to both make political gains and protect their constituents. Authors Thomas Jamieson and Douglas A. Van Belle provide reasons for optimism about the prospect of DRR in at-risk communities around the world—observing communities are able to learn from the experiences of stricken areas and pursue policies that ultimately save lives and reduce economic damage from disasters. 

In That Could Be Us, Jamieson and Van Belle find that the news media delivers information to observing communities in a form that enables learning from other disasters. Experimental evidence shows that people react to this information in a way that would punish leaders who do not back DRR efforts. Case studies, interviews, experiments, and illustrative examples suggest that leaders and political entrepreneurs heed this public demand, react to news media coverage, and act accordingly. Taken as a whole, this suggests that the policy and research implications derived from this book’s theoretical model are worthy of further exploration, particularly in terms of how they might resolve the puzzle presented by the variations in DRR policy uptake around the world that do not seem to be driven by developmental differences across communities.

Thomas Jamieson is Assistant Professor in the School of Public Administration at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

Douglas A. Van Belle is Senior Lecturer in Media Studies at Victoria University of Wellington.

That Could Be Us offers a fresh take on the impact of newspapers on disaster risk reduction, and tackles an important puzzle: why do disaster stricken communities so often resist formal disaster risk reduction practices when they are shown to reduce disaster losses? This book makes excellent contributions in advancing ideas about how disaster risk reduction lessons are learned.”
–Patrick S. Roberts, RAND 

- Patrick S. Roberts, RAND