The need to communicate early and frequently with multiple stakeholders is to ensure effective communication towards enhanced preparedness and response efforts in order to reduce disaster fatality rate. The media are critical stakeholders in disaster management as their contents create awareness and educate people in building resilience, reducing disaster risk and vulnerability in pre, during and after disaster. This study analyses the trends of communicating disaster information by the media to establish the existence of departure from the media not living up to its social responsibility role of informing and educating the public and to find out to what extent disaster awareness is communicated to communities to understand the effect of media messages on the community. This study adopted survey method with questionnaire developed and distributed to one hundred and twenty respondents in six communities in Benue State living close to flooded area- New Kanshio Village, Rice Mill Wadata, Idye Village, Achusa Village and Wurukum Village. The study disagrees with the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) (2009) assertion that disaster awareness is low in the developing countries. The result affirm that disaster information are delivered through radio and television and little attention was paid to the use of community-based disaster risk management approach that involve use of informal communication channels such as town hall meetings, community based seminars. However, timely and frequent sympathy message from various stakeholders dominated the media content, which is more top–bottom approach and not totally understood by the rural inhabitants, probably leading to high victims’ level. The paper concluded that community-based communication process using communication forms such as interpersonal, seminar, town hall meeting should be used in creating disaster awareness and to complement effort of the media.
Key words: media, disaster management, communication trends, community-based communication process, disaster information.
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