Core Module #9
Question 1: Watch the video "Implementing Risk Communication: Overcoming the
Barriers (Links to an external site.) (90 minutes). Articulate three “take-aways” from this video
that were new to you and explain their significance to risk communication.
Most of the strategies for outrage reduction recommended in the presentation aimed
at improving the relationship between the public and the individual/entity imposing the risk or
trying to manage the risk. When the public mistrusts the entity managing/imposing the risk,
the level of outrage concerning the hazard will be disproportionately higher than the hazard’s
severity. The first step in risk communication should then consist of admission of past mistakes
and misbehaviors to rebuild public trust followed by the acknowledgment of the public’s
outrage prior to staking the middle ground. Despite the gains made in risk communication
strategies, corporations still find it difficult to communicate risks effectively due to the
organizational and cognitive barriers associated with low risk-high outrage hazards.
Among the cognitive barriers to risk communication is the belief that addressing the
outrage might worsen the situation. While this barrier so often discourages risk
communicators from outrage management of hazards with a political aspect, Sandman argued
that the apathetic nature of humans towards risk makes the buildup of outrage as a result of
over-communication unlikely. However, risk communicators should expect considerable levels
of outrage in initial public meetings when the members of the public are given a platform to
express their outrage. The vocalization of outrage should not be misinterpreted as an increase
in the outrage levels as it will deter the risk communicator from addressing public outrage
before it escalates in the future.
Before risk communicators can address outrage at the public arena, they must first
communicate the need for change within the organization. Sandman recommended
presenting the need for change rather than masquerading the change as an extension of
existing policy. Organizational heads, who have better understanding of the hazard severity
than the public will not understand the need for outrage management if the risk communicator
fails to address the existence of public outrage in the first place. Finally, risk communicators
should acknowledge their humanity and emotionality when communicating the risk of low
hazard- high outrage situations. They will be better equipped to handle the anger and
resentment that arises from being the targets of public outrage facilitating th...
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