Do PIOS cry wolf? Does the Media do so by themselves?

After reading  G Baron post  I’ve been thinking for a while on the topic whether or not Media in general and PIOs in particular over-hyped crisis information- or not- using social media,  and which are the consequences in case they do.

Before starting, let’s remember we are talking about crisis, situations in which many lives can be in danger, as well as goods, reputations and business, not to forget the environment.

If we accept that crying wolf is dangerous,  the opposite attitude is also very dangerous. In other words, when the alert is not given in time (I’ll talk about the reason later on) the consequences can be serious.

As an example of under-hyped communication we only have to remember Katrina Hurricane, where at least 1,836 people died in the actual hurricane and the subsequent floods and total property damage was estimated at $ 81 billion. Several agencies including the United States Coast Guard (USCG), 
National Hurricane Center (NHC), and National Wheather Service  (NWS) provided accurate forecasts with sufficient lead time  and were commended for their actions. Therefore, it was a political decision not to give the alert.

New Orleans after Katrina Hurricane

Why didn’t the Government alert the affected areas if they have all the information? The reasons are probably related to reputations to be saved. Though, in the end, they were lost, since the hurricane protection failures in New Orleans prompted a lawsuit against the  US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), the designers and builders of the levee system as mandated by the Flood Control Act of 1965 and  an investigation of the responses from federal, state and local governments, ended up in the  resignation of Federal Emergency Management  (FEMA) director Michael D. Brown  and of  New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) Superintendent  Eddie Compass.

A different topic is why media are so keen on catastrophes, and that will be commented on a new post.

Katrina versus Irene. What would have you done?

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