J1.5 Visual typologies: A case study of uncertainty in wall-to-wall tornado coverage

Tuesday, 8 January 2013: 4:30 PM
Room 18D (Austin Convention Center)
Gina M. Eosco, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY

Much of the research on scientific uncertainty coverage has focused on television news or articles in newspapers. The former lends itself to shorter coverage of science, while the news as a whole covers many local and national topics. The media's influence, in this case, is short lived, as news stories are short in length and vary in context (Kingdon, 1995). What happens, however, when media are faced with wall-to-wall coverage of a scientific topic, such as tornado warnings? What role does uncertainty play in this scientific coverage, and further, what visuals are used to create visual verbal redundancy?

This study sets out to see if wall-to-wall weather coverage differs from traditional news coverage by discussing the limitations or uncertainties of the science (in this case, the forecasting). Additionally, this study will explore how individuals perceive uncertainty or certainty in wall-to-wall weather coverage. The results will focus on what visual typologies (indexical, iconic, and symbolic) are associated with these moments of uncertainty or certainty. Practical implications about communicating weather uncertainty visually will be discussed.

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