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Prudence not prurience: A framework for journalists reporting disasters
conference contributionposted on 2022-03-13, 23:58 authored by Jacqueline EwartJacqueline Ewart
Disasters bring out the best, and worst, in journalists. They provide examples of journalistic practice and communication under extreme circumstances. They challenge journalists mentally, physically, ethically and emotionally. This paper examines the reporting practices of journalists covering an “everyday” natural disaster, in which human life was not lost, but property damage occurred. It explores the media coverage of bush fires in South Australia and reveals the range of practices used by journalists during such events. This paper argues that the types of practices which attract criticism during media coverage of significant disasters are formed and entrenched during the reporting of “everyday” disasters. It calls for a reconstruction of journalistic practices. It suggests ways in which journalistic practices in reporting “everyday” disasters might be enhanced or reconstructed for the 21st century.