Author- Madelaine Jane Dowd

2017

10,000 words

Introduction

This text explores the possibilities and the downfall of the evolution in disaster communication. The aim of the text is to focus on the humanitarian perspective, therefore, with an intention of conveying the message back to the people within the disaster.Different mediums of communication will be explored with reference to the evolution, looking at what is gained and what is lost along the way. The reasoning behind the progression alongside the political and economical situations will then inform a new method of disaster communication through emotion. The potential of empathy within disaster communication is recognised but has been criticised as a result of some mediums being inappropriate, this is either by the ‘victim’ (I use this term as it commonly associated with people within a disaster, however it is not always reflective of them) or the audience  (these being the intended audience to which the information is passed on to). The events that are being used as case studies to which theories are then applied are eminent current world issues. One of the main events currently being reported is the Syrian War and the resulting refugee crisis. This is not a new situation, however, it is being recognised more now due to the frustrations of many wanting to know why it is still happening. This information is laden with many ethical questions as to what should be shared and how. These questions will be recognised and explored in this text. The intention of this analysis is to identify which form of communication has the most impact. Humanitarian companies aim to form empathic relationships through the transferal of information through a synthesised narrative experience to which the audience can sit at the screens and observe from afar. This synthesised experience is believed to have the potential for persuading and creating action. However, the humanity within it is questionable. The information that is relayed to the British public is disconnected from the reality, so how can the humanitarians connect with humanity again?

A new way of communicatingdisasters is needed and has the potential to impact a new audience through theaffordances of the medium. A better understanding and critique of the forms of syntheticempathy being communicated currently could inform and direct communication ofdisasters to benefit humanity. The aim of this text is to critique wide spreadcommunication that has been translated into a new medium away from the popularwidespread media imagery, and into reinterpretations through multimodalexperiences that allow defined interactions. The notion of getting the generalpublic as the audience and gaining their interest on the matters to allow anempathic connection towards something intangible has the potential to block anypositive action (Batson, 1990). This is due to the fact that empathy is aproduct of experience; an empathic reaction is formed from being able to relateto someone else’s situation (Reik, 1949). Without this connection there is apotential to loose the attention of the audience due to the dissociation withtheir own reality. This is where the interest lies in the synthetic empathy,formed through a spatial narrative within multimodal information experiencedesign.

 


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