data to a central processing site. These network hubs have become centers for the provision of public information following any earthquake that achieves newsworthiness—usually an event that ranges from being widely felt to one that impacts the entire community or region. Typically, after such an earthquake occurs, the news media converge at the network hub and scientists interpret what has happened for the assembled journalists.
The close relationship that has evolved in some regions between seismic network operators and the news media has facilitated the transfer of new knowledge and technologies to news organizations. As a result of these interactions, journalists become better-informed communicators of earthquake information to the public, and scientists become more aware of the needs of journalists for timely information in formats that are audience friendly. In addition, appreciation on the part of scientists of the critical link between the news media and the public has led to the development of specialized products designed to assist the media in communicating earthquake information to the public (e.g., Media ShakeMaps, real-time data feeds to news organizations).
It should be emphasized that readily available seismic information, the communication of this information to the public through the news media, and the close working relationship between scientists and journalists are not uniform in all seismically active regions of the country. In those areas that are poorly monitored, information about the occurrence of earthquakes is inevitably less timely and less accurate, and in these areas opportunities to improve the public’s understanding of earthquakes, and the magnitude of the risk they pose, may be lost.