Risk Management

, Volume 4, Issue 4, pp 7–21

The Role of the Mass Communication System in Natural and Technological Disasters and Possible Extrapolation to Terrorism Situations

  • E L Quarantelli
Research Article

DOI: 10.1057/palgrave.rm.8240130

Cite this article as:
Quarantelli, E. Risk Manag (2002) 4: 7. doi:10.1057/palgrave.rm.8240130


Much is known, from systematic social science research done over the last 50 years, about the role and activity of the mass communication system (MCS) in natural and technological disasters. Among other things, studies have shown, first, that the MCS is a subworld of its own (with distinctive norms, values and beliefs not shared with the larger society), and second, that this system does not simply mirror or reflect the world. However, the greatest specific knowledge exists about local community MCS. We summarize a dozen generalizations about the local reporting of disaster news, and then ask the question: to what extent would they be operative in the MCS approach to terrorism? It seems that there would be both similarities and differences, which have to be taken into account in any kind of crisis planning.


Mass communication systems terrorism disaster news crisis planning 

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • E L Quarantelli
    • 1
  1. 1.Research Professor, Disaster Research Center, University of Delaware

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