Ziek van de ramp of van het nieuws óver de ramp?
Tijdschrift voor Mediageschiedenis , Volume 5 - Issue 2 p. 88- 109
Can disaster coverage create more health complaints than the disaster itself? Media, health complaints and the amplification of risk in the aftermath of a disasterIn 1992 an El Al 747 Jumbo freighter crashed into two apartment buildings in the Bijlmermeer (Amsterdam), killing 43 people, including the crew. Although the cause of the disaster was established quite quickly (the plane lost two engines because of metal fatigue), the Bijlmer disaster developed into a huge risk issue in which the presumed toxic cargo and the depleted uranium, used as counterweight, played a central role. Lack of information from the Dutch government about the exploded cargo of the plane, combined with an initial denial of any risks for people in the area of the disaster, caused a long aftermath, ending in a formal Parliamentary Enquiry in 1999. No link was found between the disaster and the many reported health problems of the 'Bijlmer victims.' Nevertheless, between 1992 and 1999 the number of people who attributed their health complaints to the disaster rose from a few hundred people to more than 6000 after the Enquiry. Some 25 percent of the cases turned out to be related to some kind of 'post traumatic stress disorder', the rest proved to be very general and diffuse complaints, endemic for any 'normal' population. This article explores the role of the media, and especially the role of so called 'media-hypes' (intense media generated news waves) in the social amplification of this risk issue. On the basis of a content analysis of the coverage in the Dutch national daily newspapers (1998,1999) and an analysis of the health complaints of the 'Bijlmer victims' the conclusion states that this coverage played a key role in the social attribution process. Important factors are the specific 'frame' used in the news ('there must be a cover-up about some toxic agent causing all health complaints') and the chain of media-hypes, following the discovery of new 'disturbing' but 'controversial' facts.' After each media-hype, new groups of'Bijlmer victims' came forward demanding a health test. Not only this time lag indicates media influence, but also the many references to the media the patients make when they describe their problems. In the end, the news on the disaster seemed to have caused more (stress related) health complaints than the disaster itself.
|media history, disaster|
|Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision|
|Tijdschrift voor Mediageschiedenis|
|Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (See The Effect of Open Access).|
|TMG Journal for Media History; Vol 5, No 2 (2002): Rampen. Calamiteiten of mediaconstructies?; 88-109|
Vasterman, Peter, & IJzermans, Joris. (2002). Ziek van de ramp of van het nieuws óver de ramp?. Tijdschrift voor Mediageschiedenis, 5(2), 88–109. doi:10.18146/tmg.526