Speaking with One Voice: Risk Communication Lessons from the Us Anthrax Attacks

10 Pages Posted: 13 Aug 2006

See all articles by Lee Clarke

Lee Clarke

Rutgers University - Sociology Department

Caron Chess

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey - Cook College

Rachel Holmes

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey - Cook College

Karen M. O'Neill

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey - Cook College

Abstract

It is often said that in times of crises experts, officials, and organizations should speak with one voice. But this homily has not been subjected to either conceptual or empirical scrutiny. We begin those tasks in this paper. To pursue our analysis, we use statements from the popular and scholarly presses; we also use our interviews with local officials in New Jersey, USA, who had to respond to the anthrax attacks in the fall of 2001. We outline some of the meanings of the admonition to speak with one voice and discuss the rhetorical significance of the advice. Our argument is that it may be wise to speak with one voice, but this can not be taken for granted. Difference audiences may well need different messages or different kinds of messages. Speaking with multiple voices is often the most effective way to advance meaningful communication.

Suggested Citation

Clarke, Lee and Chess, Caron and Holmes, Rachel and O'Neill, Karen M., Speaking with One Voice: Risk Communication Lessons from the Us Anthrax Attacks. Journal of Contingencies and Crisis Management, Vol. 14, No. 3, pp. 160-169, September 2006. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=924051 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-5973.2006.00491.x

Lee Clarke (Contact Author)

Rutgers University - Sociology Department ( email )

Lucy Stone Hall
Piscataway, NJ 08854
United States
(732) 445-5741 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.acs.rutgers.edu/pls/pdb_p/Pdb_Display.display?SESSION_INFO=A0D1FB97FCA4500DCEF4E61ACFF7CE

Caron Chess

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey - Cook College ( email )

88 Lipman Drive
New Brunswick, NJ 08901-8525
United States
(732) 932-9153 ext. 318 (Phone)
(732) 932-6667 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.acs.rutgers.edu/pls/pdb_p/Pdb_Display.search_results

Rachel Holmes

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey - Cook College

88 Lipman Drive
New Brunswick, NJ 08901-8525
United States

Karen M. O'Neill

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey - Cook College ( email )

88 Lipman Drive
New Brunswick, NJ 08901-8525
United States
(732) 932-9153, ext. 316 (Phone)
(732) 932-6667 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.acs.rutgers.edu/pls/pdb_p/Pdb_Display.search_results

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