• Summary
  • Contents
  • Subject index

The discipline of communication has grown in popularity from the time professors of journalism and speech decided, in the mid-1960s, that the term “communication” was an excellent general descriptor for the theory and research that each group aspired to create.  Over time, the two groups grew closer and recognized significant overlap in their theoretical and research interests, but there were also differences in their traditions that kept them apart.  While both groups agreed that communication is a practical discipline, journalism professors focused a great deal of their attention on the education of media professionals.  Speech professors, on the other hand, often were more oriented to the liberal arts and valued the fact that communication could be approached from a variety of traditions, including the arts, ...


The movie, Erin Brockovich, starring Julia Roberts, told the story of a young mother with no legal training who won a court victory against Pacific Gas & Electric. Brockovich discovered that the company was illegally dumping chromium VI, a hazardous waste that caused severe illness for residents living nearby. Because of her efforts, her law firm won a class action suit against the company. The movie portrayed a case where the less powerful prevailed in court against a large company.

Because this story concerned efforts tocommunicate about a physical hazard, itisastory about risk communication.

The Erin Brockovich case is one sort of risk communication situation. Risk communication also involves underestimated hazards such as fire alarms that sound during a midterm exam or a tuna fish sandwich ...

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