05/30/2013 - 16:17

Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima: An analysis of traditional and new media coverage of nuclear accidents and radiation

Sharon M. Friedman

Sharon M. Friedman is a professor in the Department of Journalism and Communication and Director of the Science and Environmental Writing Program at Lehigh University in Bethlehem,...

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The Internet made an enormous amount of information on Fukushima available, far more than was provided by the media during the Three Mile Island and Chernobyl accidents. While journalists contributed much of the news about Fukushima, citizens actively participated in blogs and on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, exchanging views and directing others to important news articles or videos. The Internet also gave the traditional media many opportunities for better coverage, with more space for articles and the ability to publish interactive graphics and videos. Coverage in The New York Times, for example, included an abundance of background and explanatory information about the Fukushima accident and radiation releases in multiple formats and gave readers the opportunity to better understand technical information. Consequently, radiation coverage of the Fukushima accident was better than that of the Three Mile Island or Chernobyl accidents. Television reporting, however, still presented some problems.