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Flood disasters in the United Kingdom and India: A critical discourse analysis of media reporting

Solman, P. & Henderson, L. L. (2019). Flood disasters in the United Kingdom and India: A critical discourse analysis of media reporting. Journalism, 20(12), pp. 1648-1664. doi: 10.1177/1464884918762363


Reports of flooding are becoming more frequent in the UK media, and evidence from the UK Environment Agency indicates that ‘living with flooding’ will become commonplace rather than exceptional. This study is the first to adopt a critical discourse analysis approach to compare UK newspaper reporting of floods in the developed and developing world. We present our analysis of major flood incidents in Northern England and Chennai, India, in 2015. Our findings identify that UK newspapers not only give greater prominence to flooding events that are local but also frame differently those affected. Reports of floods in Northern England reinforced similarities and shared values between victims and assumed readers by drawing upon personal stories, emotions and suffering. By contrast, reports about floods in Chennai portrayed victims as anonymous ‘distant Others’, emphasising the drama of the incident rather than the plight of individuals. We argue that the newspapers’ approach to covering flooding reveals how the Western-dominated global media continue to emphasise difference rather than similarity between people in the developed and developing world, presenting flooding in the United Kingdom as exceptional and flooding in India as normalised. We believe these findings have important implications in the context of globalisation and increasing migration.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 License ( which permits non-commercial use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access page (
Publisher Keywords: Climate/climate change, crisis/disaster, flood, globalisation, India, media, newspapers, risk
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GB Physical geography
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GF Human ecology. Anthropogeography
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
Departments: School of Communication & Creativity > Journalism
Text - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial.

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