Flood risk perceptions and the UK media: Moving beyond “once in a lifetime” to “Be Prepared” reporting

In the winter 2015/2016 a series of storms resulted in widespread flooding in northern England, damaging hundreds of properties, disrupting transport and causing public disdain. The flooding was widely covered in the media. This article develops a methodological framework to conceptualise factors influencing risk perception related to flood events, discusses the media’s role as amplifier or attenuator of risks, and demonstrates how understanding risk perception can influence the deployment of effective policies, increase individual and community resilience and create a two-way dialogue between those risk and authorities. Given that climate change induced increased flood risk is a reality and the evidence that this is not yet understood by the public nor addressed by the media we suggest an urgent shift from the status quo media coverage based on blame to one of “Be Prepared”. Furthermore, we suggest risk communication be based on greater understanding of how at-risk communities perceive risk.

Climate Risk Management, 17, pp.1-10, 2017.