Civic Voices, Empowerment and Media Literacy in the Digital Era
Edited By Moses Shumow
Part One: Theorizing Mediated Communities
PART ONE THEORIZING MEDIATED COMMUNITIES ~ Chapter 1 ~ CONCEPTUALIZING MEDIATED COMMUNITIES IN AN ERA OF DIGITAL CONNECTIVITY Moses Shumow INTRODUCTION ON JANUARY 10, 2014, over 300,000 residents of West Virginia living near the capital of Charleston woke up to learn that the water coming out of their taps was unsafe for drinking. While the details were still unclear at the time, those living in the affected area eventually learned that thousands of gallons of a toxic chemical used at a local coal processing plant had leaked into the local water supply. The facility where the chemical was stored was directly upstream from the intake pipes for the regional water company. Residents were rightly concerned for their safety, with some reporting chemical burns and others being admitted to local hospitals with a range of complaints, including diarrhea, vomiting, and dizziness. The water ban also impacted local businesses and schools, as bottled water supplies ran low and many were forced to close (Gabriel, 2014; Kloc, 2014). Adding further misery to the disrupted lives of thousands of West Virginians was the halting, confusing, and contradictory information and edicts coming from the government and those in positions of authority. Just a few days after the water ban was put in place, West Virginia’s governor, Earl Ray Tomblin, working with the Centers for Disease Control, began lifting the ban in phases; then, just two days later, the same authorities announced in a statement that the water should not be ingested by pregnant women. In coming...
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