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Exploring risk attenuation and crisis communication after a plague death in Grand Canyon

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In 2007, a US National Park Service (NPS) biologist working in Grand Canyon National Park in the state of Arizona died from pneumonic plague contracted from a mountain lion, prompting NPS, in partnership with local and federal agencies, to inform publics about plague risk within park contexts. Overall, the incident attracted limited media attention and public concern about an increased risk of plague. Drawing on the Social Amplification of Risk Framework (SARF), the Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication model (CERC) and the related literature outlining ‘best practices’ in crisis communication, we explore how characteristics of this incident may have attenuated, rather than amplified, plague risk. Results are drawn from the data collected at a workshop with NPS employees and in-depth interviews with these and other individuals. Theoretical and practical implications of this research, including future directions for pairing CERC and SARF in organizational risk and crisis communication research are discussed.

Keywords: amplification of risk; case study; crisis communication; risk communication

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Communication,Cornell University, Ithaca,NY, USA 2: Department of Natural Resources,Cornell University, Ithaca,NY, USA

Publication date: 2013-02-01

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