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Feb 26: Seminar: Reporting the Sichuan Earthquake

Don’t miss this unique opportunity to learn about the press coverage of the Sichuan earthquake.

The seminar Media Reporting and Risk Communication During and After the Wenchuan Earthquake in China will be given by JMSC Research Assistant Professor, Dr. King-wa Fu on Friday, March 26 at midday.

Dr. Fu will present findings of his content analysis on earthquake-related newspaper stories in the first month after the earthquake struck, and of the in-depth interviews he carried out with 55 people with disabilities in a highly affected city, Deyang, Sichuan, about their media use and communication need during and after the earthquake.

“This event provided a unique window of opportunity to study media reporting on disaster. I compared how American and Chinese newspapers reported Hurricane Katrina and the Sichuan earthquake.

There were similarities in the reporting of the government’s emergency activities, the destruction wreaked and human injuries.

However, the two nations differed in where journalists attributed responsibility. Chinese journalists appeared to self-censor and didn’t apportion blame on the government, whereas the American reporters were quick to lay the blame at their government’s feet.”

Reporting the 5/12 Wenchuan Earthquake in 2008 was unprecedented for journalists in China. Departing from past policies of suppressing media reports, the Chinese government at first allowed foreign and domestic media to visit the earthquake zone and filed detail reports on the devastation; however, this openness was short-lived.

Yet, the unprecedented short period of uncensored disaster communication allowed a chance to study the ways in which earthquake-related information was disseminated through the mass media to the public and the people in the affected areas.

Dr. King-wa Fu

Dr. Fu’s research focuses on the media’s influence on mental health/suicide, health communication, media research methods and measurement, and statistics in journalism. He has a PhD from the JMSC, an MA in Social Sciences, and a MPhil in Engineering from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. He was a journalist at the Hong Kong Economic Journal.

This study is funded by The University of Hong Kong 512 Earthquake Roundtable Fund.

  • Venue: Shum Wai Yau Reading Room, Eliot Hall, JMSC, HKU
  • Date: Friday, February 26
  • Time: 12 noon – 1pm