• Journal Article

Metaphors matter: Disaster myths, media frames, and their consequences in Hurricane Katrina

Citation

Tierney, K., Bevc, C., & Kuligowski, E. (2006). Metaphors matter: Disaster myths, media frames, and their consequences in Hurricane Katrina. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 604, 57-81. DOI: 10.1177/0002716205285589

Abstract

It has log been understood by disaster researchers that both the general public and organizational actors tent to believe in various disaster myths. Notions that disasters are accompanied by looting, social disorganization, and deviant behaviour are examples of such myths. Research shows that the mass media play a significant role in promulgating erroneous beliefs about disaster behaviour. Following Hurricane Katrina, the response of disaster victims was framed by the media in ways that greatly exaggerated the incidence and severity of looting and lawlessness. Media reports initially employed a "civil unrest" frame and later characterized victim behaviour as equivalent to urban warfare. The media emphasis on lawlessness and the need for strict social control both reflects and reinforces political discourse calling for a greater role for the military in disaster management. Such policy positions are indicators of the strength of militarism as an ideology in the United States.