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Oil and WaterMedia Lessons from Hurricane Katrina and the Deepwater Horizon Disaster$
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Andrea Miller, Shearon Roberts, and Victoria LaPoe

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9781617039720

Published to University Press of Mississippi: September 2014

DOI: 10.14325/mississippi/9781617039720.001.0001

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Visuals of Disaster

Visuals of Disaster

(p.125) 6 Visuals of Disaster
Oil and Water

Andrea Miller

Shearon Roberts

Victoria LaPoe

University Press of Mississippi

During both crises, the public was bombarded with thousands of visual images of Hurricane Katrina. In a survey six weeks after Katrina, ninety percent of those surveyed chose a media-fed image such as the rooftop rescues. However, 10-percent chose personal iconic visuals. Pictures that only they could pick out of a sea of images: “my house” “my grandmother’s house,” etc. Four years later, eight out the ten most memorable images were chosen again. However, fewer personal memories were chosen. A content analysis of the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster visuals showed that images were somewhat limited due to access. The spill was offshore and not happening in the middle of an American city. The visuals included beaches with tar balls and workers, oil-filled booms, the horizon on fire, oil spewing from the bottom, shrimp boats in dock, and oil slicks on the ocean’s surface. The most iconic series of photos was of the oiled pelicans. The pelican video was the point in the coverage where the public and private responses became extremely critical.

Keywords:   Iconic, Oiled pelicans, Rooftop rescues, Hurricane Katrina, Deepwater Horizon Oil disaster

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