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Oil-soaked Images of Disaster: Identifying the National vs. Local Television Visuals
Unformatted Document Text:  10 Research question five addressed the differences in the national visuals between week one (breaking news coverage) and week six (sustained coverage). As the national coverage continued, the visuals shifted from week one to week two. In a test of two proportions between the two weeks, the oiled pelican, oil on land, horizon on fired, underwater camera, oil spill aerial and cleanup crews were all significant at (p<.01). During the first week, the national news showed significantly more visuals of the Horizon on fire and the oil spill aerial. In the sixth week, the networks aired underwater camera view, oil on land, oiled pelicans and cleanup crews significantly more than the first week (see Table 7). Discussion Throughout the prolonged crisis event, the Deepwater Horizon Oil spill was not an easy story to show or tell. The story occurred almost a hundred miles offshore and along hundreds of miles of shoreline spanning four states. Access to the necessary visuals was often difficult and sporadic. For example, the dispersants were a large part of the narrative. However, the video of dispersants was virtually non-existent in the coverage. The story was also a complex, scientific story which was difficult to explain to audiences within short news holes. Again, we use the example of the dispersants. The story information on how much was released, what kind and how they might affect the spill and the wildlife varied wildly. No one had a clear picture of the dispersants - literally or scientifically. However, even with access and explanation issues, both the local and national media did manage to serve their individual stakeholders according to their different missions and with the use of different visuals. The visuals of the first week represent a media trying to come to terms with the loss of life, the enormity of the disaster, and the difficulties in covering it. The visuals of week six represent consequences and containment.

Authors: Bemker LaPoe, Victoria. and Miller, Andrea.
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10 
 
Research question five addressed the differences in the national visuals between week 
one (breaking news coverage) and week six (sustained coverage). As the national coverage 
continued, the visuals shifted from week one to week two. In a test of two proportions between 
the two weeks, the oiled pelican, oil on land, horizon on fired, underwater camera, oil spill aerial 
and cleanup crews were all significant at (p<.01). During the first week, the national news 
showed significantly more visuals of the Horizon on fire and the oil spill aerial. In the sixth 
week, the networks aired underwater camera view, oil on land, oiled pelicans and cleanup crews 
significantly more than the first week (see Table 7). 
Discussion 
 
Throughout the prolonged crisis event, the Deepwater Horizon Oil spill was not an easy 
story to show or tell.  The story occurred almost a hundred miles offshore and along hundreds of 
miles of shoreline spanning four states.  Access to the necessary visuals was often difficult and 
sporadic.  For example, the dispersants were a large part of the narrative.  However, the video of 
dispersants was virtually non-existent in the coverage. The story was also a complex, scientific 
story which was difficult to explain to audiences within short news holes.  Again, we use the 
example of the dispersants.   The story information on how much was released, what kind and 
how they might affect the spill and the wildlife varied wildly.  No one had a clear picture of the 
dispersants - literally or scientifically.  However, even with access and explanation issues, both 
the local and national media did manage to serve their individual stakeholders according to their 
different missions and with the use of different visuals. The visuals of the first week represent a 
media trying to come to terms with the loss of life, the enormity of the disaster, and the 
difficulties in covering it. The visuals of week six represent consequences and containment.  
 


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