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Navigating the Storm: A qualitative study of complementary media usage during natural disasters
Karlstad University, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (starting 2013), Department of Geography, Media and Communication.
2016 (English)Independent thesis Basic level (degree of Bachelor), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

The aim of this study is to analyze the use of different media channels occurred within a natural disaster situation. This research focuses specifically on charting the factors that affect audiences in their choice of media channels and how these factors ultimately lead to the complimentarily use of sources. This study is based on channel complementarity theory and utilizes a qualitative method consisting of semi-structured interviews and has been complemented with a survey that respondents were required to complete prior to the interview. The twelve college students that made up the sample for this study were selected through convenient and purposive means and have personally been involved in natural disaster situations without exception.

Final results and analysis suggest that individuals utilize several media channels combined, at different points in time or simultaneously, and in random order during a natural disaster. The analysis of the results also shows that individuals use this variety of media channels in order to obtain two different perspectives: broad and narrow. Traditional media channels such as radio and television are shown to be used in order to obtain the broader perspective during a natural disaster event. In contrast, social media like Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat are used to gain the narrower perspective.

The findings of this study also suggest that factors affecting media choices are accentuated by a crisis such as a natural disaster and are intrinsically connected to specific needs audiences have at one particular point in time. The most relevant factors contributing to the choice of media type and leading to channel complementarity found in this study are accessibility, compatibility of sources, tailorability, and humor appeal. Controversially, credibility appears to be disregarded as a key factor, even though it is still perceived as an influential characteristic. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
Media Usage, Channel Complementarity, Crisis Communication, Natural Disaster
National Category
Communication Studies
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-44333OAI: diva2:945732
Subject / course
Media and Communication Studies
Educational program
Study programme in Public Relations
Available from: 2016-07-04 Created: 2016-07-02 Last updated: 2016-07-04Bibliographically approved

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