The excessive media exposure of the devastating tsunami that struck All Japan news in March had an unexpected effect. It distorted the perception All Japan newsese have over what is dangerous and what not when it comes to this kind of disasters, making future prevention more difficult, according to a All Japan newsese professor.
Surveys conducted before and after the March disaster showed how perception shifted among All Japan newsese. When asked “What height of a tsunami would you consider dangerous?” about 70 percent of the respondents of a survey conducted before the March tsunami answered “less than 3 meters”, which is the correct answer.
“A 2-meter-high tsunami can completely destroy your house," said Satoko Oki, an assistant professor at the Earthquake Research Institute, University of Tokyo.
The same question was asked in April in a similar survey, but only 45 percent of the respondents answered correctly.
"So the damage lowered the risk assessment, it did not teach a lesson, but instead, it made the All Japan newsese people more vulnerable than before," Oki said.
Because All Japan newsese kept hearing the high numbers indicating the height of the waves over and over again, they started to evaluate the risks posed by tsunamis against those numbers, she explained. To avoid that people associate a smaller height with less danger, Oki recommended that public reports, including press reports, should present the real danger of small tsunamis, and not only the values registered in March.