Inderscience Publishers

Risk communication in nuclear emergency management: an experiment with media news

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Communication plays a prevailing role in nuclear emergency management, and media becomes the principal information tool and bridge between the general public and the emergency management teams. In this paper we investigate the influence of communication in a hypothetical nuclear event causing radiological contamination in the food chain. For research purposes, we use TV news to measure the communication effect on the public acceptance of food legal norms and of management options for the food chain. The results show that, although newsworthy, one instance of news will be mostly interpreted as support of already existing opinions and can only influence opinions that are not directly connected to personal life. An association is found between the influence of the communicated news and some socio-demographic variables: region and habitat. Risk perception also proves influential: a higher risk perception is associated with a lower occurrence of change in response after the communication.

Keywords: risk communication, mass media, nuclear emergency management, food contamination, radiological contamination, nuclear safety, TV news, television news, public acceptance, region, habitat, risk perception

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