What “Emergency Sources” Expect From Journalists: Applying the Hierarchy of Influences Model to Disaster News Coverage

Daniela Grassau, Sebastián Valenzuela, Soledad Puente


This study analyzes what “emergency sources” (authorities, emergency managers, and experts) expect from journalists during a disaster, using a mixed-method approach with six focus groups and a survey of 166 official Chilean sources. Based on the first three levels of the hierarchy of influences model, we explore how they perceive journalists’ roles and performance when covering disasters. The results suggest that emergency sources’ evaluations, while affected by a combination of individual, routine, and organizational variables, are mostly shaped by sources’ direct and mediated experience with journalists. Thus, a more fluid relationship between journalists and emergency sources, as well as more communication experience by sources, could lead to a better understanding between both groups, which, ultimately, may lead to delivering more accurate and timely information.


authorities, communication, disasters, experts, journalism, sources

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