The Tuscaloosa tornado and coping strategies among local journalists

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University of Alabama Libraries

The EF-4 tornado on April 27, 2011, that tore through Alabama marks the most violent natural disaster to visit Tuscaloosa. Fifty-two people in Tuscaloosa died as a result of the tornado, which destroyed about 12 percent of Tuscaloosa. Two local media organizations, The Tuscaloosa News and WVUA-TV, covered the tornado’s aftermath and the recovery. The present research interviews five journalists, drawn from each local media organization, to investigate how they have coped with witnessing or suffering direct loss from the tornado. Three of the five journalists suffered direct loss from the tornado. The present research also incorporates social identity theory perspectives upon ingroup and outgroup formation to investigate whether journalists’ coping strategies can be understood within a sociological context. Literature discussing sociology of newsrooms also contributes to the present research’s investigation of journalists’ coping strategies. The present research argues that social identity theory perspectives can help explain the coping strategies of journalists after a traumatic situation such as the tornado.

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