Saturday, September 21, 2019

Tuesday, September 03, 2019

Iran Hostage Situation

Iran Hostage Situation and the Media Within the United States
by Stockton Trujillo
Course: ESMG 4200- Disaster Response and the Public
Date: September 08, 2018

Executive Summary:
The media has often been known to skew stories to cause controversy in an effort to gain more
viewers. This was also shown in the 1979 Iran Hostage Situation; “The crisis also raised
questions about whether the TV news was reporting on the events or influencing the drama
(Feuerherd 2017). This incident caused a spike in viewers across media outlets throughout the
United States. Victim privacy was not protected and the media used these victims to gain
empathy from the viewers in the United States.

On November 4, 1979, Iranian militants seized the U.S. Embassy in Tehran; 52 American
diplomats and citizens were held for 444 days! Once mass media here in the United States got
ahold of the news, media companies saw the growth in viewers. “TV news audiences spiked
from 45 million each evening to 57 million” (Feuerherd 2017). This event happened in a time
period where videotapes and inexpensive satellite feeds were being used by the media here in the
United States. “The interest generated by the Iran crisis indicated an American appetite for more
international news” (Feuerherd 2017).

As stated above, the Iranian Hostage Situation of 1979 caused a change in the media and had
many Americans digging for information and wanting to know what was going on across the
globe. “The American media dramatized the conflict and put extra pressure on the Carter
Administration to act promptly, but despite the failures of President Carter to secure their rescue,
the struggles of the domestic economy played a larger role in his losing the presidential election
of 1980 to Ronald Reagan” (Rosenfield 2016). We all know that the media often tends to skew
the story to get more viewers/publicity. They don’t always provide the facts on a story.
“American news media networks portrayed the Iranian Hostage Crisis in a manner that
exaggerated the conflict and focused on immediate threats” (Rosenfield 2016). The media began
airing a late-night news show called The Iran Crisis-America Held Hostage; this turned into ABC
News Nightline. “For over a year, the American public fixated its eyes on the crisis in Tehran,
and what was once a country that barely received a fleeting glance from the United States would
become the eternal recipient of its chilling glare” (Coscia 2016). This began changing
American’s views of Iran. “Iran, through the eyes of the United States, was no longer a nation,
but a breeding ground for radicalism, extremism, Islamism, and anti-Americanism . . . Therefore,
the media singlehandedly filled the public’s void of ignorance about Iran with antagonism”
(Coscia 2016).

Alternative Solutions:
The following alternatives to the narrative in media discourse should be applied to hostage
situations in order to protect victim privacy and not impede with police/military work on scene:
1. The media should not glorify victims in hostage situations. As stated by Rosenfield,
“Families of hostages became new figures in American public life. . .”
2. Instead of spreading fear in viewers, the media should focus on facts, rather than
spreading hate about terrorist incidents.

The media attention on the 1979 Iran Hostage Situation changed journalism today. This led to
24/7 media coverage. This media coverage led to the creation of a late-night news show,
Nightline, that is still airing today. The media caused many negative idealizations about Iran, and
caused a spread of hate toward Iranian’s by much of the United States. “Americans responded to
this coverage with a “fierce, even xenophobic nationalism and emotional bond to their fellow
Americans held captive in Iran. They came to perceive Iranians as merciless, evil violators of
human rights who were unjustly punishing innocent citizens” (Coscia 2016). Not only were the
victims’ privacy not kept private, the victims/hostages were glorified here in the United States
and they were all named and had stories published about them. “By depoliticizing the hostages,
the media successfully identified the hostages as innocent private individuals under attack by
radical militant Iranians, touching sympathy and inciting fury in Americans across the nation
(Rosenfield 2016). The media failed the U.S. citizens by dramatizing the issue and making it a
more personal dilemma.

1. Victims privacy should always be protected in issues regarding hostage situations.
2. Media outlets should face legal or financial consequences for reporting victims
information, or it should be tied into HIPAA.
3. The media should focus on facts rather than spreading hate towards any race, gender,
culture, nation, etc.

Action Plan:
1. Have HIPAA implemented within media companies, in order to protect victim privacy.
2. Prevent media outlets from spreading hate towards other races, gender, nationalities, etc.
3. PIO assigned to all U.S. international conflict incidents.

Rosenfield, D. (2016, November 08). The Portrayal of the Iranian Hostage Crisis by American
Media. Retrieved from
Feuerherd, P. (2017, November 04). How the Iran Hostage Crisis Changed International
Journalism. Retrieved from
Atwater, Tony. “Terrorism on the Evening News: An Analysis of Coverage of the TWA Hostage
Crisis on NBC Nightly News”, Political Communication, 4:1, DOI:
10.1080/10584609.1987.9962805. http://www-tandfonlinecom. p. 17-24
Scott, C. V. (2000). Bound for glory: The hostage crisis as captivity narrative in Iran.
International Studies Quarterly, 44(1), 177. Retrieved from
Coscia, M. (2016, August 20). The Fateful 52: How the American Media Sensationalized the
Iran Hostage Crisis. Retrieved from

Great Flood of 1993

The Great Flood of 1993
Derek Shirley
ESMG 4200
September 30, 2018

 Executive Summary
This paper explores the 1993 event which took place across 9 states in the Midwest. The Great Flood of 1993 is ranked as one of the greatest natural disasters to ever hit the United States. Thousands of houses were destroyed and hundreds of towns across the Midwest were affected with some being completely under the flood water. Many were killed during this flood and damages reached over $15 billion. This paper will also explain the importance of accurate media coverage and its role before, during and after any difficult situation which affects so many Americans. Tens of thousands of people were displaced with many to never return to their homes. The area affected had many flood plains. Since this 1993 flood there has been multiple buyouts to help dramatically decrease the impact future flooding can have on households in the Midwest.

Description of the Great Flood of 1993
            I have chosen the Great Flood of 1993 for this case study. I have searched many sources to try to find the most accurate and applicable information for this paper.  In May 1993 record flooding occurred in the Midwest across the following nine states: North Dakota, South Dakota, Kansas, Nebraska, Minnesota, Missouri, Iowa, Wisconsin and Illinois. This flooding continued through September 1993. As a result of the flood waters raging there were fifty people killed and resulted in approximately $15 billion in damages. Tens of thousands of people were evacuated from their homes which would also result in at least 10,000 households being displaced because their home and their entire livelihood were destroyed by these treacherous waters. Over 15 million acres of farmland were submerged under flood waters. Many bridges, highways and various roads across the Midwest were severely affected resulting in many closures. With the increased rainfall in the Midwest precipitation was 200-350 percent above normal levels. Across the nine states over 400,000 square miles were affected. In some locations the flood duration was close to 200 days. With the amount of flood waters raging it affected many levees and barges which also greatly impacted transportation along the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers. There was no railroad traffic in the Midwest during this time. There were also close to a dozen commercial airports impacted by the flood. This disaster didn’t just go away after these five months. Many were affected for years to come following this tragic event.
Problem Statement
            There are a few problems that I see from this story. First, the levees weren’t designed to hold the amount of water that the precipitation was producing. Second, there are many people living in the floodplains across the Midwest whom don’t have flood insurance. Third, there was a Missouri man who volunteered to help with the levees by the name of James “Jimmy” Scott who was tried and convicted of intentionally causing a catastrophe.
Data Analysis
            “The magnitude and severity of this flood event was simply over-whelming, and it ranks as one of the greatest natural disasters ever to hit the United States. Approximately 600 river forecast points in the Midwestern United States were above flood stage at the same time. Nearly 150 major rivers and tributaries were affected” (Larson).  As of June 1, 1993, soils and streams were filled to capacity. The precipitation totals in the Midwest had surpassed between 12 inches up to 38.4 inches in various states. The rainfall was nearly continuous with no end in sight. The runoff from the rainfall had no place to go except into the streams and rivers which were already at capacity. The National Weather Service observed the hydrograph to try and predict flood levels. The limitation of the hydrograph is that is assumes that at some point the rain will subside which didn’t happen this time (Larson). Many of the homes affected were located in floodplains but most of the homeowners didn’t have flood insurance. In a case study by two professors at Colorado State University they examined the Midwestern flood of 1993. In their paper they express that, “Reporters also gravitate toward story “hook.” One such hook is the presence of fatalities. In all, these factors contributed to a geographic bias that lead newspapers to give greater emphasis to some area struck by flooding while ignoring others, inadvertently misrepresenting the accrual extent of the disaster” (Lederer & Ernest, 6-7). “The media can play a critical role before, during and after such incidents. The media is essential, for example, for warnings to be effective and may be the single most important source of public information in the wake of a disaster” (Scanlon). Another source also backs this claim with the following statement: “Survey data indicate that the news media are, by far, the most important sources of disaster related information” (Goltz, 346). There is only one man in Missouri history to ever be sent to jail for the 1979 Missouri law for “Intentionally Causing a Catastrophe.” His name is James “Jimmy” Scott and in July 1993 he volunteered his time along with hundreds of other volunteers to help the National Guard with one of the Mississippi River levee that protected the small town of West Quincy, Missouri. Scott, who at the time was 23 years old, was an ex-con who was a part-time janitor at one of the local fast food restaurants. The morning of July 16 he went to volunteer his time and was given waders to walk along a levee which was located between Bayview Bridge and Quincy Memorial Bridge. Scott was given the job to repair damaged tarps covering the sandbags with duct tape. Scott came upon a spot which looked weak because he noticed water seeping through the tarp. He removed four sandbags from one spot and relocated them to the weak area. Scott later notified one of the National Guard members of the weakened area. After explaining what he discovered he was relocated to a more dire area but was told that the area brought to their attention would be looked over if conditions got worse. Later than evening the levee failed with the river rushing through. A couple of men told Scott the news of the failed levee. After hearing the news Scott came across a reporter who wanted to hear about Scott’s volunteer effort on the levee. He told the reporter his discovery which turned into another news appearance during the live broadcast. During the news feed a Sergeant from the Quincy Police Department recognized Scott and knew of his history of property damage. The Sergeant was concerned about some of the details of Scott’s story not adding up so he was called in for questioning. Scott was released but the Sergeant was determined that Scott sabotaged the levee but he needed to prove it. They found a motive from an acquaintance of Scott who claims he was told by Scott that he wanted to wreck the levee so he could have an affair. There was a three day trial where the jury convicted Scott of intentionally causing the levee to break due to him being a repeated offender. He was sentenced to life in prison but Scott maintains his innocence (Grant et al).
Key Decision Criteria
            My main criteria for choosing which alternative is best are going to be based on the greatest number of people who will be positively impacted now and also in the future.
Alternatives Analysis
            One alternative to future floods in the floodplains, hazard mitigation,  would be to have one’s property purchased and moved to an area outside of the flood zone and/or purchased and demolished so no new structures will ever be able to be built at the current location within the floodplain. Another alternative would be to construct buildings out of material that is stronger than the common building supplies and also to build up the foundation. It would also help to create stronger flood barriers or an area that can store water when levels are higher.
            My recommendation is to use a buy out and to clear the floodplain areas which will in turn reduce the efforts and money spent for future flood claims.
Action and implementation Plan
            Many hazard mitigation programs have been put into effect since the Great Flood of 1993. “Since the 1993 floods, Iowa has begun more than 46 acquisition and relocation projects, according to Dennis Harper, the State of Iowa hazard mitigation officer. Some 1,000 properties have been removed from flood-hazard areas in the state. More than 20 critical facilities, such as hospitals, have been protected. At least 66 projects have been funded, with a total investment of $54 million in FEMA, state and local community funds. The long-term payoff is 2 dollars returned for every 1 dollar invested, Harper says. In some communities the payoff is already greater” (U & F, 35). In Cedar Falls, Iowa “all properties are deed restricted and must remain in public ownership permanently” (U & F, 36). As shown from the previous statements, the acquisition of properties in the floodplain whether demolishing or relocated has been a large potential future hazard that will be avoided which allows for more money in everyone’s pockets.

Goltz, J. D. (1984). Are the News Media Responsible for the Disaster Myths? A Content           Analysis of Emergency Response Imagery. International Journal of Mass Emergencies      and Disasters, 345-368. Retrieved September 29, 2018.
Grant, M., Rackwitz/St, J., & Post-Dispatch, L. (2018, August 09). This Man Caused The Great        Flood Of 1993 - Or Did He? Retrieved September 28, 2018, from   
Larson, L. W. (1996, June). The Great USA Flood of 1993. Retrieved September 29, 2018, from
Lederer, N., & Ernest, D. J. (2000, June). Media Reports a Library Disaster: A Case Study at           Colorado State University [Scholarly project]. In Colorado State University. Retrieved September 28, 2018, from
Scanlon, J. (n.d.). Research about the Mass Media and Disaster: Never (Well Hardly Ever) The        Twain Shall Meet. Retrieved September 29, 2018, from            and_Disaster_Never_Well_Hardly_Ever_The_Twain_Shall_Meet.
U., & F. (2003, May). The 1993 Great Midwest Flood: Voices 10 Years Later. Retrieved        September 29, 2018, from         years-later

Social Media in Disaster Response

The Potential Uses or Pitfalls of Social Media in Disaster Response
Zachary Neilson
Case Study Issues in Mass Communication 07 September 2018

Executive Summary:

The ability to use social media by emergency managers in response to a disaster or emergency situation has the potential of being indispensable because it allows managers to have current and real-time updates on situations going on in the affected areas. However, the ability to collect that information can be quiet daunting for any one single entity to monitor and analyze on their own. Thus the need to possible have some form of automated computer system to monitor this information is needed. But there is the question on if such collection of data can be an intrusion of one’s privacy if no prior consent or agreement was ever made.

Case Details:

In today’s society the use of social media as an information sources outlet has become so prevalent that people have used it to talk about current events, political ideals or beliefs, and more recently to inform those that care about them if they are safe during a disaster or emergency situation. With all this information out there the use of these social media outlets could be an invaluable tool to emergency managers by being able to put out warnings or preparation information before a disaster, enable managers to effectively deploy and use humanitarian resource during a disaster, and to collect data on the recovery process and results after a disaster. However, being able to collect, analyze, and disseminate all that information can be too much for one person, or group to handle thus the need for an automated process in needed. But for many people they view their social media accounts and information as private and would consider it an invasion of their privacy if emergency managers were collecting or using their information in any way. This case study will look at the potential legal issues, possible framework to use social media, and how social media has been effective before.


The focus of this study is to answer: How can social media be effectively and legally used by emergency managers?

Data analysis:

Throughout the process of building this case study multiple articles and websites were looked at to find data to help answer the question of how to use social media in a disaster response.

It is a human right to have one’s privacy protected. The use of social media outlets and platforms may from a legal viewpoint have many obstacles and laws that need to be navigated. Some areas of concern may include copyright laws and privacy and data protection laws as well as intellectual property laws and potentially intrudes into social media and social networks where personal and even sensitive data may be exchanged. International law recognizes human right to privacy in all situations except in extreme situations like war or another public emergency which ‘threatens the life of the nation’ (De Stefani, 2017 p.200). While it may not have specifically mentioned a natural or man-made disaster states can temporary suspend fundamental rights as long as this is a necessary, nondiscriminatory and proportionate measure, and does not breach other international obligations such refugee protection, right to life or prohibitions of torture or bans on genocide (De Stefani, 2017 p.201).

Violation of Contextual Integrity:

In an article written by Paul Hayes and Stephen Kelly titled “Distributed morality, privacy, and social median natural disaster response they wrote of an incident that happened in the United Kingdoms involving the CCTV system used throughout the country(Peck v the United Kingdom). There in order to show the effectiveness of the CCTV system local authorities released unobscured images of an individual performing self-harm but through the use of the CCTV system emergency responders where able to react and safe the person’s life (Hayes & Kelly, 2018 p162). However, because authorities released unobscured images to entities outside of the normal spectrum of emergency services this person’s privacy was violated in what Hayes and Kelly called the theory of Contextual Integrity of Information (Hayes & Kelly, 2018 p161). This Contextual Integrity deals with violations of privacy where information gained by one person is then shared with another who has no right or needed to know that information. An example given of this violation to privacy is like “a priest is expected to keep the contents of a confessor's confession confidential, if he were to gossip with the milkman he would have violated the Contextual Integrity of that information—there is no established norm for the priest to share details of confessions with the milkman” (Hayes & Kelly, 2018 p161).

A social media platform that works:

One social media platform that already has a successful disaster response is the Crisis Response page on Facebook. On this page there are a list of disasters going on in the world where people are able to mark themselves safe if it is determined that they are in an affected area. It also allows for people to offer help, people to ask for help, as well as allow for fundraiser to be created in response to the disaster. After reading through how and why Facebook can determine this information it was found that Facebook uses the information it’s users have already consented to providing like, names of cities listed in their profile, access to location through personal devices (if users already agreed to allow this access), and other factors like where you might be using the internet in order to activate its Safe Check function. Users will receive a notification asking if they would like to mark themselves safe however, users have the option to not respond or to turn this function off if they choose not to participate in this function. This has allowed Facebook and emergency managers to monitor and react to disasters and emergency situations in a legal manner without violating users right to privacy.

Key Decision Criteria:

When it comes to deciding what type of method to use for data collection and monitoring for emergency managers it should be one that mitigates privacy risks and violations. This is done by first having a system that replaces digital volunteers (who may be bad actors) with autonomous computational artifacts. Secondly, following ethical and legal research include a caucus of legal experts, a system that could be designed to be licensed to vetted and approved emergency management entities. Thirdly, the system would be developed under a comprehensive ethical framework indicating to end-users that it should only be utilized as dictated by necessity, and that access should be limited and secured, and information collected appropriately encrypted (Hayes & Kelly, 2018 p162). Also when deciding how to use social media one will also need to verify if the information coming in is real both from the affected population and from the emergency managers. Trust is built on three characteristics—ability, benevolence, and integrity (Mehta, Bruns, & Newton, 2016 p.515). The following table can also be used to determine when and how to use social media:

Table 1. Functions of disaster social media (Houston, et al., 2014 p. 8)

Disaster social media use
Disaster phase
Provide and receive disaster preparedness information
Provide and receive disaster warnings
Signal and detect disasters
Send and receive requests for help or assistance
Inform others about one’s own condition and location and learn about a disaster- affected individual’s condition and location
Document and learn what is happening in the disaster
Deliver and consume news coverage of the disaster
Provide and receive disaster response information; identify and list ways to assist in the disaster response
Raise and develop awareness of an event; donate and receive donations; identify and list ways to help or volunteer
Provide and receive disaster mental/behavioural health support
Express emotions, concerns, well-wishes; memorialise victims
Provide and receive information about (and discuss) disaster response, recovery, and rebuilding; tell and hear stories about the disaster

Discuss socio-political and scientific causes and implications of and responsibility for events
(Re)connect community members
Implement traditional crisis communication activities

Alternatives Analysis:

There are many different times that social media can be used in response to a disaster and there other means that can be used like major news broadcasting agencies, newspapers, radio and other website dedicated to disaster response in the a local area. During the 2007 Southern Californian Wildfires many different websites and web based outlets help keep people informed of what was going in their area and when they would be allowed back into areas they were evacuated from. One website was called contained extensive collection of area news collected and submitted by residents, discussions forums, photo galleries, maps of the area and links to local and government information websites (Sutton, Palen, & Shklovski, 2008 p.629). This was accomplished through a close collaborating with local officials and firefighters to provide up-to-date information. After the fires were contained site operates for conducted photo tours of the affected areas street by street, posting pictures of each affected area in a public gallery.


Following the table provided by Houston, et al., 2014 emergency managers can have a predefined timetable on when and what information they may need to provided to the public through social media and other media outlets. Also establish disaster response websites for local areas that is maintained and updated by certified emergency responders Public Information Officers (PIO) as well as emergency response volunteers who’s sole purpose is to maintain the website.

Action and Implementation Plan:

In order to implement the most effective and method using social media PIOs and emergency managers should create, unless already created, a public Facebook page for their local area and make sure that the availability of the page be made known to local residents through informational meetings and on their own public information. Also PIOs and emergency managers should make sure they have access to legal counsel who are well versed in human right and privacy laws. This will be sure to provided them with counsel in knowing if they are violating any laws or protections. Finally emergency responders should also be given training on a regular basis either annually, semi-annually or whatever the PIO or emergency manager may deem necessary.


De Stefani, P. (2017). Using social media in natural disaster management: A human-rights based approach. Peace Human Rights Governance, 1(2), 195-221. doi:10.14658/pupj-phrg-2017-2-3

Facebook. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Hayes, P., & Kelly, S. (2018). Distributed morality, privacy, and social media in natural disaster response. Technology in Society, 54, 155-167. doi:10.1016/j.techsoc.2018.05.003

Houston, J. B., Hawthorne, J., Perreault, M. F., Park, E. H., Hode, M. G., Halliwell, M. R., . . . Griffith, S. A. (2014). Social media and disasters: A functional framework for social media use in disaster planning, response, and research. Disasters, 39(1), 1-22. doi:10.1111/disa.12092

Mehta, A. M., Bruns, A., & Newton, J. (2016). Trust, but verify: Social media models for disaster management. Disasters, 41(3), 549-565. doi:10.1111/disa.12218

Sutton, J., Palen, L., & Shklovski, I. (2008, May). Backchannels on the Front Lines: Emergent Uses of Social Media in the. Retrieved from doi=