An Audience Perspective on Disaster Response

Kurniawan Adi Saputro

Indonesia Institute of the Arts, Indonesia

This paper builds on three observations. One, in a world increasingly saturated with media, the majority of the public know the disaster through media. Two, the media that people use facilitate two-way communication on a large scale, in addition to their new information storage and retrieve capacity. Three, it has been widely observed that the first responders in disaster are the people themselves. These three observations provide the reason for us to pay attention to the interaction between those directly affected by disaster and those who are moved to relate to them because of media. By focusing this paper on a subset of disaster events that is mediated it aims to shed light on a problem that has been overlooked by disaster literature, namely how the collective, external responses toward mediated disaster comes about.

Literature suggests that several problems might prevent collective responses toward mediated from materialising. Media audiences are fragmented into different types of content and channels that their attention cannot be guaranteed. Salient features of the disaster were differently formulated that different problem formulations lead to different actions. Media audiences’ mental picture of the affected people and their relationship to them are not clear that their role cannot be decided beforehand. Resources needed to take action are not necessarily available. And, lastly, the boundaries between private and public domain presented specific challenges to collective action.

This paper will argue that we need to pay closer look at how media audiences actually receive and act in response to a mediated disaster. The author’s own research on Jalin Merapi’s initiatives in the wake of Mt. Merapi eruption in 2010 will serve to illustrate how media audiences and the people of Merapi collaborate in a successful disaster response effort.

1. Charlotte Cabasse
2. Justyna Tasic