Articles | Volume 9, issue 6
07 Dec 2009
 | 07 Dec 2009

A press database on natural risks and its application in the study of floods in Northeastern Spain

M. C. Llasat, M. Llasat-Botija, and L. López

Abstract. The aim of this work is to introduce a systematic press database on natural hazards and climate change in Catalonia (NE of Spain) and to analyze its potential application to social-impact studies. For this reason, a review of the concepts of risk, hazard, vulnerability and social perception is also included. This database has been built for the period 1982–2007 and contains all the news related with those issues published by the oldest still-active newspaper in Catalonia. Some parameters are registered for each article and for each event, including criteria that enable us to determine the importance accorded to it by the newspaper, and a compilation of information about it. This ACCESS data base allows each article to be classified on the basis of the seven defined topics and key words, as well as summary information about the format and structuring of the new itself, the social impact of the event and data about the magnitude or intensity of the event. The coverage given to this type of news has been assessed because of its influence on construction of the social perception of natural risk and climate change, and as a potential source of information about them. The treatment accorded by the press to different risks is also considered. More than 14 000 press articles have been classified. Results show that the largest number of news items for the period 1982–2007 relates to forest fires and droughts, followed by floods and heavy rainfalls, although floods are the major risk in the region of study. Two flood events recorded in 2002 have been analyzed in order to show an example of the role of the press information as indicator of risk perception.