Natural Disasters, Media coverage, South African media, Online media, News framing, News24


  • Kealeboga Aiseng (##journal.primary_contact##)
    Rhodes University
  • Sanele Gamede


Literature exists that studies media coverage of natural disasters. The media has the potential to influence how governments react to disasters, how emergency services handle disasters, and how people receive and react to the news of disasters. However, the media sometimes sensationalizes the news about the disasters and focus on other manifestations such as panic, looting, shock, emerging heroes and villains, human conflict, and suffering. This study aims to analyze the media coverage of the 2022 floods in the province of KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) in South Africa. In particular, the study seeks to evaluate if there was media coverage of the floods and what the contents of the coverage were. The study used content analysis to examine the presence of KZN floods from three selected online newspapers, focusing on whether the floods were covered, and which issues or themes dominated the reporting of the floods. The aim here was to examine the role that the media played during this disaster in South Africa. Content analysis was used to note the number of stories covered during the KZN floods in the media, the key themes that dominated the coverage of the floods and factors that influenced the media coverage of the floods. The selected online newspapers are News24, Independent Online (IOL) and TimesLive. These newspapers were purposively selected because of their wider national readership, the ideology of the newspaper, strong online presence, and type/style of reporting. Based on the above-presented data, we argue that there was sufficient coverage of the KZN floods in South African media. The study also discovered that the following issues or stories dominated the reporting/coverage of floods: disaster management, casualties, relief measures, the role of the government, business interests, the role of opposition parties, destruction of infrastructure, and effects on social life.