Mass media as an important tool in addressing risks to the public/society


How risks will be presented to the public is mainly determined by the mass media. The media plays a crucial role in “processes of risk revelation, the social contestation that surrounds scientific knowledge of risks, and also processes of a social challenge to 'risk society'” (Cottle, 1998, p. 5). Risks that are often found in the headlines are perceived as a constant threat to the public (Lichtenstein, Slovic, Fiscoff, Layman, & Combs, 1978; Kitzinger, 1999). Given that perception of risk can be changed in the context of new information, it can also be easily constructed. Therefore, “the mass media and the scientific and legal professions in charge of defining risks become key social and political positions” (Beck, 1992, pp. 22 23). For example, the mass media usually cover only highly dreadful disasters which leads to an overestimation of risk related to rare disasters such as terrorist attacks or nuclear accidents (Gierlach, Belsher, & Beutler, 2010).

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