The purpose of this paper is to empirically examine structural and psychological factors that may affect disaster evacuees’ usage of different media channels in a multichannel media environment.
The present study uses the 2016 Kumamoto Earthquake in Japan as the case study. It adopts a quantitative approach using structural equation modelling with data collected from an original questionnaire survey (n=744).
The results show that the evacuees’ usage of almost all media channels is positively related to the number of different types of media terminals they had. That said, those who were evacuated mandatorily tend to utilise internet-enabled media channels more. It is also found that traditional broadcast and internet-enabled media channels complement each other instead of displacing. Thus, multichannel appears to be an effective means for disseminating disaster information. However, it is also found that having access to a particular media channel does not necessarily mean that people will utilise it.
To fully utilise the multichannel media environment for disaster information dissemination, governments and media organisations also need to focus on the quality of the information being disseminated over both traditional broadcast and internet-enabled media channels.
Few studies have empirically examined factors that affect disaster evacuees’ usage of different media channels in a multichannel media environment. This study fills this gap and the findings may help governments and media organisations in utilising multiple media channels to disseminate disaster information.
The questionnaire survey of this study was supported by the International Media Foundation Grant from Waseda University, Japan. An earlier version of this paper was presented under the title “Multi-channel information dissemination for disaster evacuees – the case of the 2016 Kumamoto Earthquake in Japan” at the 29th International Telecommunications Society (ITS) European Conference held in Trento, Italy, 1–4 August 2018. The authors would like to express gratitude for all the comments the authors received during the conference. In addition, the authors would also like to thank the editors and anonymous reviewers of the journal for their insightful suggestions and comments.
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