Note: Authors are listed alphabetically, with the exception of the first author.
Race and Media Coverage of Hurricane Katrina: Analysis, Implications, and Future Research Questions
Article first published online: 21 DEC 2006
Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy
Volume 6, Issue 1, pages 39–55, December 2006
How to Cite
Sommers, S. R., Apfelbaum, E. P., Dukes, K. N., Toosi, N. and Wang, E. J. (2006), Race and Media Coverage of Hurricane Katrina: Analysis, Implications, and Future Research Questions. Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy, 6: 39–55. doi: 10.1111/j.1530-2415.2006.00103.x
- Issue published online: 21 DEC 2006
- Article first published online: 21 DEC 2006
We analyze three aspects of media depictions of Hurricane Katrina, focusing on the relationship between race and coverage of the crisis. Examination of media language use explores the debate surrounding the terms “refugees” and “evacuees”—as well as descriptions of “looting” versus “finding food”—in light of the predominantly Black demographic of the survivors in New Orleans. Assessment of the story angle indicates a disproportionate media tendency to associate Blacks with crime and violence, a propensity consistent with exaggerated and inaccurate reports regarding criminal activity in Katrina's aftermath. A review of new media sources such as mass e-mails identifies stereotypical depictions of storm survivors that both converge and diverge from coverage found in more traditional media outlets. Psychological explanations, implications for public attitudes and behavior, and future research questions are explored.