Framing the flood: a media analysis of themes of resilience in the 2011 Brisbane flood

Bohensky, Erin L., and Leitch, Anne M. (2014) Framing the flood: a media analysis of themes of resilience in the 2011 Brisbane flood. Regional Environmental Change, 14 (2). pp. 475-488.

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In the wake of the flood that affected Brisbane, Australia, in January 2011, public attention turned to the causes of the event and lessons for minimizing the impacts of future floods. The news media was an important vehicle for understanding and internalizing the 2011 Brisbane flood. Examining how the flood was framed in the media is, therefore, useful to understand broad public perception of floods. We undertook a systematic newspaper analysis during a one-year period to explore media framings of the flood, focused on learning as an aspect of resilience in relation to two themes: (1) perceived links between the flood and climate change and (2) perceived roles of government in managing the flood. We show that media coverage of the flood reinforces aspects of resilience by acknowledging community spirit, self-reliance and the importance of sharing experiences for learning; articulating the risk of extreme events in a changing climate; and highlighting regional management trade-offs. Much of the discourse is likely to inhibit resilience, however, by casting the flood in terms of blame and political opportunity and paying inadequate attention to longer-term aspects of regional resilience. The limited learning observed to date may highlight a need for other mechanisms and actors to lead learning processes. As policy related to the 2011 Brisbane flood, and extreme events more generally, is influenced by the public discourse, it is important to understand the nuances of communication around these events and the media's role in reinforcing or changing perceptions.

Item ID: 32689
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1436-378X
Keywords: climate change; community; discourse; government; learning; natural disaster; flood
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© The Author(s) 2013. This article is published with open access at This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author(s) and the source are credited.

Funders: South East Queensland Climate Adaptation Research Initiative (SEQCARI)
Date Deposited: 29 Apr 2014 23:39
FoR Codes: 12 BUILT ENVIRONMENT AND DESIGN > 1205 Urban and Regional Planning > 120504 Land Use and Environmental Planning @ 20%
20 LANGUAGE, COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE > 2001 Communication and Media Studies > 200104 Media Studies @ 60%
16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1604 Human Geography > 160404 Urban and Regional Studies (excl Planning) @ 20%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9610 Natural Hazards > 961010 Natural Hazards in Urban and Industrial Environments @ 50%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9603 Climate and Climate Change > 960301 Climate Change Adaptation Measures @ 50%
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