Brazilian Local and National News Coverage of the Samarco Disaster: A Disaster for the Community, the Corporation or the Environment?
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This chapter examines nuances of local and national news coverage of the 2015 collapse of the dam at a Samarco mine in the state of Minas Gerais, which led to widespread contamination of the Doce River basin. As exposures of communities to disaster risks increase in Brazil more quickly than capacities to reduce vulnerabilities (Freitas, The disaster at the Samarco mining barrage: Exposed fracture of Brazil’s limits in disaster risk reduction. Science and Culture, 68(3), 25–30, 2016), and as global demand for energy, minerals and other resources continues to target Latin America (e.g. Casey and Krauss, It doesn’t matter if Ecuador can’t afford this dam. China still gets paid. The New York Times, 2018; Serapio & Xu, Vale eyes expansion of Brazil iron ore mine to feed Chinese demand. Reuters, 2018), it is imperative that news media go beyond short-term, episodic coverage tied to official narratives, to provide in-depth, community-oriented discussions that foster long-term resiliency. This case study of local and national news coverage asked how local media defined the disaster, presented community agency, victims, vulnerability, and resiliency, and how this compared to national coverage over time.
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