The Canadian Red Cross’s 9th Annual Disaster Management Forum took place in Halifax, Nova Scotia from November 24th to the 26th. The theme for this year’s conference was ‘educating and connecting disaster management professionals.’

At this year’s conference, the CIP Initiative’s Kevin Quigley presented a session entitled, “Of Gods and Men: Taking Media into Account when Preparing for Natural and Unnatural Disasters.”

In his session, Dr. Quigley presented his research findings on selected print media coverage of H1N1, domestic natural disaster, and domestic industrial failure in Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom. He discussed media coverage from several perspectives: the volume of coverage; the rate at which articles were published; headline tone; and perceived performance of key public and private institutions. Dr. Quigley presented a detailed investigation of the claim that media exaggerated the threat of H1N1, which prompted an immediate demand for limited vaccine. He also discussed media coverage of the Canberra bushfires, the Waterfall train accident, Hurricane Juan, the de la Concorde overpass collapse, the 2007 floods in the UK, and the Potters Bar train wreck. Although natural disasters occur more often and cost more than industrial failures, Dr. Quigley discussed the potential that negative media coverage has to prompt government policy makers to over-react to industrial failures and under-react to natural disasters.