Disaster Zone

The Media as Critical Infrastructure

They are part of the emergency management partnership

by Eric Holdeman / March 16, 2017

In today's national media environment it is not unusual for the media to be called "the enemy."  It was a number of years ago that I put together a PowerPoint presentation named, The Media is My Friend--which is pretty much the opposite of the enemy.

I'd like to challenge you to think about which box you put the media in? Friends, enemy, suspect, "don't touch--may be injured."  Too many emergency managers choose not to engage with the media. Yes, there are news releases speaking to some event you are hosting or conducting, but there is nothing beyond that. They are not invited into planning sessions and they are definitely kept at arms length. 

People and organizations are very good at keeping the media at arms length, rather than engaging with them as one of the many team members we are supposed to have. I personally consider the media as part of our list of critical infrastructures. They don't provide water or power, but they do provide information. While social media is creeping into their territory in a major way, they still are a major voice for getting good information to the people who live in your state or community, before, during and after an emergency or disaster.  They also have a major role to play in warning.

What got me thinking about all of the above was that I spent about five hours yesterday participating in one television station's planning for how they can continue to function and perform their mission when there is a disaster that impacts their specific site; their transmission capabilities; or the network of infrastructures that support their operation, e.g. power, people, water; internet, waste water, etc.

I think it is a great testament to their dedication to their profession that they are taking the time to become prepared. If every company, not just the media, did the same with senior leadership, and corporate participation we'd be a much better prepared and resilient region. 

What if you contacted your local media companies and offered to come meet with their management team to talk about the hazards in the region and how you might be able to support one another when the chips are down? Encouraging them to become prepared as a business is other major message you can offer. 

Try it--they won't bite your head off and in your list of relationships, it should include these same media contacts.