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Communicating throughout Katrina: Competing and Complementary Conceptual Lenses on Crisis Communication

Garnett, J.; Kouzmin, A.
Public Administration Review

December 7, 2007

Hurricane Katrina was as much a communication disaster as it was a natural and bureaucratic disaster. Communication gaps, missed signals, information technology failures, administrative buffering, turf battles, and deliberate and unintentional misinterpretations delayed and handicapped both the recognition of the crisis that Katrina posed and the response to its devastation. This essay views crisis communication through four conceptual lenses: (1) crisis communication as interpersonal influence, (2) crisis communication as media relations, (3) crisis communication as technology showcase, and (4) crisis communication as interorganizational networking. A conceptual framework is presented that compares these lenses with regard to agency, transparency, technology, and chronology. The planning, response, and recovery stages of the Hurricane Katrina disaster are viewed through these communication conceptual lenses, illustrating key facets of each perspective and adding to our deepening understanding of the events.