Riding out the Storm: Public Evaluations of News Coverage of Hurricane Andrew

November 1996 (VOL. 14, NO. 3)

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South Florida residents who experienced Hurricane Andrew evaluated the credibility of the hurricane-related information from television as more trustworthy than other sources. Contrary to what was hypothesized, the broadcast medium of television (but not radio) was evaluated on the dimension of expertise as being higher than newspapers. As predicted, interpersonal sources were judged high on trustworthiness, but much lower on expertise than any of the mass media sources. The findings indicated that when people wanted factual information and self-help information, they expressed reservations about the credibility of other people (friends, neighbors, or relatives). In such cases, there was a marked tendency to place emphasis (or faith) in television.