Etmaal van de Communicatiewetenschap edition:2015 location:Antwerpen date:2-3 February 2015
Media play an important role in risk communication, providing information about accidents, both nearby and far away. Each media channel has an own presentation style, that could influence how the audience perceives the presented risk. This study investigates the predictive power of twelve different media channels (traditional media, new media and social media) for the perceived risk posed by radiation released from the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant, on the respondents’ own health and that of the population in general. This was calculated using linear regression analysis, controlling for five variables. Additionally, the correlations between the use of different media channels and both the satisfaction with information and duration of attention paid to the coverage are calculated. The study uses empirical data from a public opinion survey (N = 1,002), which are representative for the Belgian population with respect to six socio-demographic variables. Results show that some media channels do have influence on risk perception: television, interpersonal communication and the category of miscellaneous online sources are significant predictors of the perceived health-related risk of the nuclear accident. Longer attention to the coverage, and higher satisfaction with the provided information predict lower risk perception. The use of all major media channels - with the exception of television - is related to longer duration of attention paid to the coverage. Only interpersonal communication is significantly related to satisfaction with the coverage: those unsatisfied with the information were more likely to engage in interpersonal communication. Taken together, these results suggest that media channels and media coverage can indeed have an influence on how the audience perceives a risk presented in the media.