I received a comment yesterday through the Atomic Insights Contact link telling me about a recently produced video titled After Fukushima: The Fear Factor. The source described the work as a report on the media frenzy in the UK following the tsunami attack on the Fukushima region of Japan.
As the video describes, less than 24 hours after the massive wave washed over a large, populated area, killing more than 16,000 people, injuring more than 5,000, and causing more than 4,000 to have disappeared, the commercial news media shifted its attention to focus on one of the three nuclear power stations that had been hit by the wave. Of the 14 nuclear units in the region, there were four units at the Fukushima Daiichi station that did not fare well in the attack.
The primary reporter for this video is a young Japanese woman living in the UK who still has family in Japan. During the video, she engages in an online video conversation with her brother, a law student, and her father who provide a view from Japan that is quite different from what the western news media has published.
The reporters also spend a good deal of time talking to Fiona Fox, the Director of the Science Media Center in the UK. Fiona has written and spoken about her experiences in answering media requests following the Sendai earthquake and tsunami. She describes how dismayed she became as the requests turned almost immediately from the normal stories expected after a major natural disaster to stories purposely aimed at capitalizing on what she describes as the unique fear of radiation.
In the video, Ms. Fox tells how many of the journalists that she regularly serves from the Science Media Center were being told by their editors to find more sensational ways to frame the Fukushima story. She even mentions that several respected reporters were actually pulled off of the story because they continued filing reports that were measured, balanced and not sensational enough.
She describes how hurtful and insulting it was to her experts, nearly all of whom are professional academics, to be referred to as “apologists” for the nuclear industry merely because they refused to blow the story out of proportion. She tells how one of her experts is a radiation health specialist who has worked with patients undergoing radiation treatments for many years and has never had any association with the “nuclear industry.” That expert knows a great deal about the effects of radiation on the human body, both from study and personal experience. She also talked about how often radiation is used to save lives and how she cannot understand why the media believes that it is the basis for unique levels of fear.
Fiona’s tale helps to explain why people like Chris Busby and Arnie Gundersen, who spread such inaccurate and inflammatory rhetoric about nuclear energy, have become temporary media darlings who get asked for their opinion on many topics that are obviously outside of their fields of expertise. Of course, as true media focused personalities, they are never hesitant to step up to the microphone and share their misinformation as widely as possible.
In short, I highly recommend that you take the time (36 minutes) to watch the film. Share it widely among your friends and relatives, especially those who seem to get all of their information from the advertiser supported news media.
I was disappointed with just one aspect of the film – no one mentioned the money the fuel suppliers to replacement power generators in Germany and Japan are making as a result of the unreasoned fear that has been spread about radiation. No one mentioned how many advertisements those petroleum purveyors have purchased in the advertiser supported media outlets that have pumped up the volume on the stories that reinforce that fear.
WORLDbytes is a unique online Citizen TV channel set up and run by the education charity WORLDwrite. Dedicated to advancing new knowledge, skills and ideas, the charity promotes excellence in citizen reporting and provides free film training to young volunteers to make this possible.
I will be spending more time on WORLDbytes. Based on my initial experience in watching After Fukushima, it seems like a good place to turn for information on what is really happening in the world. It certainly seems more reliable to me than a media full of editors that actually force their employees to exaggerate fear and obscure reality in order to bring more eyeballs to see the commercials that are purchased by the media’s real customers – the companies who pay for the ads that fill up 20-50% of the air time.
Interactive Moments – THE FEAR (IN THE MEDIA) AFTER FUKUSHIMA – BACKGROUND STORY