prof. e.

Mass Communication, [multi]media, methodology and much, much more!

Nuclear’s PR Problem

Posted by prof e on April 6, 2011

Some time ago I wrote about the PR problems confronting the climate change community. Questions about the integrity of the supporting scientific data were raised after leaked emails suggested that researchers had a hidden agenda.

The nuclear energy industry in America, and the world, is experiencing a PR problem as well. Part of the problem can be attributed to historical events while another part appears to be based on irrational fears surrounding nuclear technology. But certainly a significant part of the problem surrounding public perceptions about nuclear energy can be traced to mass media portrayals of real and imaginary nuclear events.

This blog post will not be an attempt to defend or defame nuclear energy or the nuclear power industry, but rather to explore the source of public perceptions about the nuclear power industry and how the media have contributed to that perception.

The China Syndrome, starring Jane Fonda, Jack Lemmon and Michael Douglas, arrived in theaters on March 16, 1979. According to the NY Times, “With the no-nukes protest movement in full swing, the movie was attacked by the nuclear industry as an irresponsible act of leftist fear-mongering.” But then, just twelve days later, the nuclear industry experienced a devastating blow when an accident at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania raised new fears about the safety of nuclear power. I grew up just down the road (and down wind) from Three Mile Island and was quite aware of the pandemonium that ensued in the days following. In fact, the fallout from Three Mile Island is frequently blamed for a virtual halt to nuclear power development in the US. While public fear and panic was substantial, the physical damage from TMI was relatively minor. Again, the NY Times:

The T.M.I. accident was, according to a 1979 President’s Commission report, “initiated by mechanical malfunctions in the plant and made much worse by a combination of human errors.” Although some radiation was released, there was no meltdown through to the other side of the Earth — no “China syndrome” — nor, in fact, did the T.M.I. accident produce any deaths, injuries or significant damage except to the plant itself.

The most serious nuclear accident happened in April of 1986 at the Chernobyl reactor in the Ukraine. The accident resulted in 57 deaths, primarily among workers involved in attempts to contain and clean up the damaged reactor. And most recently, news coverage of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear facility damaged by the 8.0 earthquake and subsequent tsunami has contributed to widespread fear of nuclear radiation poisoning, although no effects of radiation exposure have been recorded to date [link].

Despite the relatively few deaths and injuries related to nuclear power production, a significant segment of the public is strongly opposed to nuclear power based on concerns over safety. Media coverage of the Fukushima story continues to emphasize “potential” harm from radiation exposure even though there is little evidence of real consequences.

Of course who can blame us for being a little nervous. Godzilla, a mutant product of a nuclear explosion, wreaked havoc while the movie’s anti-nuke message resonated with post-WWII Japanese. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles gained their power from nuclear ooze while their impressionable adolescent fans “learned” nothing about the actual physics behind the technology. And with an inept Homer Simpson at the controls of the local nuclear power plant, disaster appears to be inevitable.

Whether it is sensational and/or uninformed reporting of news events or fictional portrayals of our worst nuclear nightmares, the media have been steadily building a case against nuclear in the court of public opinion. Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt, authors of Freakonomics, dubbed the media’s role the Jane Fonda Effect and concluded their article by predicting that the future of nuclear power in the US, “may all depend on what kind of thrillers Hollywood has in the pipeline.”
What do you think? Have the media given nuclear power a fair shake?



38 Responses to “Nuclear’s PR Problem”


    I believe ever since America nuked Japan, Nuclear energy has been seen as a very negative thing. the long term consequences of that event plagued Japan for decades. so while nuclear power plants may not use nuclear activity in such a way, people are skeptical of its use. I think the media does not talk about the positives of nuclear energy, and it only comes in the news when their is potential for nuclear harm. some aspects of using energy are particularly frightening but i think the media should talk about the positives of nuclear energy as well

  2. Frankie said

    There really are few positives for using nuclear energy.

    First, humankind doesn’t really use nuclear energy the way many people assume. Instead the chain reaction initiated from destroying atoms is used to produce heat for boiling fresh water then converted into electricity. Fresh water is really the energy source so far as humans are interested. Fossil water from underground aqua firs doesn’t replenish quickly enough to provide for infinite electricity production. For this reason, it doesn’t matter whether we use coal or natural gas to generate needed heat for turning water into electricity. Huge amounts of fresh water must be used to simultaneously store and cool spent fuel rods. This is why most nuclear plants are constructed near fresh water sources for general supply and emergency recourse. At some point, fresh water will disappear. But simply put, nuclear energy kills living things –if you get too close.

    Sure, nuclear reactions are “cleaner” than the resulting emissions produced by coal, oil, and gas, but you have to consider the large amount of spent fuel rods leftover from atomic reactions, plus the time and amounts of clean water needed to maintain such facilities. Now imagine the amount of water needed to maintain an energy marketplace where nukes comprise 40, 60, or 80% of energy production. Then research these facts: If present nuclear energy/electricity production for the U.S amounts to 20% — how many gallons of fresh water are used to do so? How much water at 40% and so on?

    Don’t be blinded by the vast amounts of energy they’ll likely produce, but consider the amount of energy they’ll require to maintain. The common controversy leaves us with a false choice of whether we continue to rely mostly on fossils for heating fossil water or transfer the burden of ever growing energy needs to nukes. This is a zero-sum game.

    Meanwhile, people will continue to think that shows like TLC’s 19 Kids and Counting are cute, and the oil, gas and coal producers will continue to enlist media to spread propaganda about “scary” nukes, and the real substance of this problem is missed.

  3. Eduardo Vasquez said

    I read the two links offered as references for this topic and, well, I’m a little confused.
    I mean, I understood the points the two articles were trying to make, but sheesh, what a long exposition to make and to the end of ultimately confusing symbolism with substance. How Gojira (Godzilla), Jane Fonda, and the bumblings of Homer Simpson underscore a media induced runaway public fear of nuclear technology, that therefore justifies a rational acceptance of “safe” nukes is an intellectual lie. But the Homer Simpson thing was cute though. Doh!

    Don’t get me wrong, I ramble a lot too. The authors of those two articles are far better educated and apt writers than me, but it’s clear that they funneled their arguments to support a bogus opposition: Although the advancement of nuclear technology seemingly demonstrates relative statistical safety, somehow, Jane Fonda, Godzilla and Homer have come to embody the public’s irrational fear of nuclear power? As if to say, “Silly consumer, jump on the nuclear bandwagon or face rapid global warming with continued use of coal!”

    Uuugh, I’ve followed this nuclear discussion in the media quite closely, and it seems hokey that Jane Fonda’s crusade and Japan’s monstrous symbol for nuclear power gone awry, Godzilla, are even remotely relevant to the core issue. But better writers than me are, I guess, able to persuade. Homer Simpson, on the other hand, symbolizes the idea that mankind is asleep at the wheel in his contemplation of nuclear management nicely, though.

    To be more precise, what happened recently at the fukushima daiichi power-plant shows, unmistakably, that the redundancies built into the facility failed – entirely. In other words, the fail-safe protocols and back up technology required for meltdown aversion didn’t work. It seems Homer was rudely awakened from dreams of donuts and Duff beer to find that a last minute push of a button was pointless. I’m a huge fan of Japanese engineering by the way (I own two of their motorcycles), yet a country that suffers somewhere around 200 earthquakes annually and knows how to build, a country that invented the word Tsunami, just couldn’t cope with Murphy ’s Law.

    As a last resort, these folks had to dump tens of thousands of gallons of corrosive salt water into the reactor vessels in desperate attempt to prevent the awakening of atomic Gojira. Then, once a meager level of control was restored, in typical Homer fashion, engineers decided to dump the radioactive waste water back into the ocean. The multi-billion dollar facility is lost forever. Sushi, anyone?

    Now, in an interesting attempt to minimize at least one of the most infamous nuclear incidents in the U.S, one articles’ author points out that, statistically speaking, living next to a nuclear plant is safe. After all, “The accident at Three Mile Island ruined one of the two reactors on the site. The other one, operated by Exelon, continues to quietly churn out electricity for 800,000 customers. Outside the plant’s training center is a small vegetable garden enclosed in chain-link fencing: corn, tomatoes, beets. Its output is monitored to detect radiation. Although the garden was badly in need of watering during a recent visit, the vegetables were otherwise fine.” I guess he’s offering a qualitative and quantitative juxtaposition here.

    From this perspective, readers aren’t encouraged to ask better questions: Is nuclear technology a viable alternative, considering infinite demands for energy? Are these articles just a clever plug for proponents of nuclear industry?

    I believe those articles to be a dichotomy of alleged scare mongering VS rational science, mired with pointless symbolism and oblique statistics.

  4. Tyler Shomaker said

    I do think that nuclear power is a viable source for energy and that it may not be given a fair chance; however I do think that people opposed to it have a good reason to. Nuclear power may not have killed many people directly but it has affected many people. For example as you stated only resulted in 57 deaths but that may not be the full reason people are afraid of nuclear power. From the fall out that resulted in the Chernobyl accident people as of July 2010 have finally been allowed to move back into contaminated areas. Also agriculture in this area has suffered because of the nuclear contamination. So the fear may not be of the explosions or cancer but actually of losing their homes and land. Media has portrayed nuclear negatively because it has negative effects but today I believe the United States need to adopt into more nuclear power. First and foremost I think they should update their current facilities and then add more power plants.

  5. Tyler Shomaker said

    Sorry I forgot to put my source for my information this is the link.

  6. Brittny Balderston said

    I agree with Jordan Gregory. When you say “nuclear”, energy is definitely not my first thought, and with the past history of anything nuclear, a lot of people probably think the same way. I haven’t seen much positive aspects from nuclear energy in the media, and, in fact, I don’t really think that a lot of mediums are big enough to make the public know that this is a safe form of energy. No, I’m not saying that reporters or writers don’t know what they’re talking about. I am simply saying that people who use too much logic may not think past that word “nuclear”. And, of course, we wouldn’t want this to go wrong and have our own Godzilla here in Pueblo; and of if he’s born out of the reservoir, Pueblo West would be the first to go… eek!

  7. Marcus Hill said

    I agree with Brittny, much of what we know with nuclear energy isn’t good. We haven’t seen much from the so-called “energy” side. The media even back in the day has only shown a negative image of nuclear material. Dropping a nuke on a country does not help the case out much either. The only way it has been shown in the news is for warfare, creating weapons, or death. With what has been going on in Japan I couldn’t imagine why anyone would want to have a nuclear facility in their city let alone their country. Until nuclear experts can display a GOOD positive use for it like batteries with eternal life or a new source of electricity (haha bad examples but you get the point), we should not try to promote the use of it.

    Marcus Hill

  8. Anna MCCNM 101 said

    Regardless of how I feel about nuclear energy, I do feel that the media has aided in the FEAR we have of anything “nuclear.” As the point was previously made, I agree that most of us don’t think of electricity when we hear the word nuclear, we envision mushroom clouds, fallout shelters and uninhabitable cities teeming with cockroaches because Homer fell asleep again.

    However, as much as I agree that Hollywood has overdone the NUCLEAR BAD mentality as indicated in both articles, there are some very legitimate concerns surrounding nuclear energy beyond Homer error, in particular, waste storage. As we become more and more AFRAID of the effects of fossil fuels on the climate and look to nuclear as an answer, we must first establish more long-term solutions to the storage of spent rods. In a climate that is already concerned about water shortages in the future, especially in large western cities, can we handle the long-term effects of nuclear any better than we have handled the long-term effects of coal?

    I agree with Frankie that the heart of the problem should not be rushing to find new ways to fill the energy demand but rather a long-term commitment to energy conservation. However, you really want to fill an American teenager’s heart with fear for the future? Just take away their high-tech devices. Sorry, they will choose mushroom clouds, fictional or not.

    The best way to combat nuclear energy’s PR problem is to make someone else the scariest guy on the block, and the media has been doing a pretty good job on big oil lately too.

  9. Frankie said

    Whoa, wait a minute. I’m grateful to Anna for agreeing with me, but I never once argued about rushing to fill energy demands, nor did I advocate long-term commitments to conservation. As far as I’m concerned, conservation efforts are pointless if you don’t first deal with exponential population growth in both the 1st and 3rd world. And it doesn’t matter which technology we use to produce electricity when you consider that THE REAL ENERGY SOURCE IS WATER. The facts to consider are not about whether to use coal to produce electricity or nuclear reactions; it’s whether we have the clean water resources necessary to sustain human life. Forget your iPad! neither of these articles really had any substance to them, in my personal view.

    I’ll bet most people don’t think this way, but the only thing that will happen if we become more efficient at providing electricity to consumers is that they will use more and more and more and more and more electricity. The benefits of better technology are almost always squashed by the increased usage of its product. Nothing about the way Americans think about technology, or the way it’s constantly reinvented in the marketplace, is conducive to conservation. You can buy all the fancy light bulbs you want — THAT’S THE POINT! Separating your garbage into glass, paper, and plastic is just a way to appease a guilty conscious.

    The only thing I agree with anyone about is that the media quite handily uses fear to capture the attention of consumers to deliver then to producers( marketers and advertisers). This includes the underlying intention of this debate between Coal and Nuclear.

    From a media-pop-culture academic historical standpoint, I guess the two articles for this post mean something. But as far as getting Americans to really start thinking about the way forward regarding the viability of mass energy production and sustained (infinite?) economic growth — they’re USELESS.

    Please people! Dig deeper into your psyches when thinking about these issues. Don’t just fall into the paradigm suggested.

  10. While certainly the media is guilty in some cases of sensationalizing the possible dangers of nuclear power being used here at home, I think the few, very real and possible risks far outweigh the benefits of nuclear power being further used in the United States.

    There are a host of reasons why nuclear power is bad for the environment and our nation….

    1) It’s really not very cost effective…recently there was an estimate done by the Florida Power and Light company to create a new nuclear plant and the quote they came up with for the cost was somewhere in the range of $12 and $18 billion dollars for a single new plant. Now who do you think will be fitting that bill? In a weak economy no less….

    2) Nuclear power has proven to be a source of nuclear contamination in water supplies…The radium levels they find in water supplies close to nuclear sites is starting to increase as well. You got no problem with radioactive ish’ in your water supply fine, personally however, I’d opt against that, even if it’s just small doses.

    3) Contrary to arguments that it will, in fact, Nuclear power WILL NOT reduce carbon emissions. While nuclear plants are less polluting than your average coal plant, the emissions that they create in the actual process that leads up to creating energy is just as polluting.

    So there are a few (and just a few mind you) of the facts about nuclear energy and why it’s bad. Most of the news reports I read on the matter definitely touch on or delve completely into topics like this…not because their trying to drum up fear, but because, after all these are the facts.

    If for a moment I go ahead and concede the fact that the media is going overboard on this topic, I would also have to say “why not go overboard?” I mean, there are some issues that require a lil’ bit of heightened vigilance and I’d say that nuclear power and how deep in bed the American people get with it is one.

    Post 9/11 liberals sat back and kept their mouths shut while right wing conservatives went on and on about national security and new safety regulations on planes and the whole 9 yards. The incessant “terror level” alerts and eventual paranoia that contributed to getting us involved in two wars in the middle east was all tolerated, but when we start to bring up the actual preservation of where we have to live, all of a sudden we’re coming with “sensational” reports and bad Intel. Well, last I checked the last lot of folks who had bad info got us knee deep in “Iraqi Freedom”, meanwhile their corporate buddies who profit greatly off war *cough* Halliburton *cough* lined their pockets.

    I think it’d behoove us to start listening to the other opinion, one that may I add doesn’t come from a political party whose constituents don’t behave like salesmen for greedy, state-owned nuclear corporations.

  11. Anna MCCNM 101 said

    Frankie, what I agreed with was your statement…

    “Meanwhile, people will continue to think that shows like TLC’s 19 Kids and Counting are cute, and the oil, gas and coal producers will continue to enlist media to spread propaganda about “scary” nukes, and the real substance of this problem is missed.”

    which I took to mean overpopulation was at the heart of the problem and that regardless of what source of energy we turn to, if we don’t start conserving our resources, it will be a moot point, and that the media has manipulated the issue. All of which I agree with.

    Hope this clarifies.

  12. Frankie said

    Anna thanks for finding something I wrote agreeable, but we’re not looking at the nuclear issue the same way. Population growth is important, but the nature of industrial economy is more so. Resource conservation is a nice thought, but not remotely possible considering population growth and the way our economy is designed to run.

    Wal-Mart and Home Depot will fill their shelves with all sorts of energy efficient junk consumers desire, but it’s terribly naïve to think that they want you to buy less.

    The biggest dilemma any consumer should be worried about when it comes to increased electricity production is freshwater, but the symbolism of Godzilla and climate change often serve to obfuscate debates about whether its safer to use coal or nuclear. And you can find any number of distorted “scientific” articles presented by publications and broadcasters with unclear agendas pertaining to the technology. However, from a simple numbers standpoint: it takes far less uranium ore to produce heat than it does coal, and this is why nuclear seems like the better alternative. Nuclear wins just on this fact alone, but as you can imagine, the coal industry has a vested interest in “proving” otherwise. What’s already happened is that nuclear power has been shown to be superficially viable in the marketplace. It’s is a highly profitable industry and stands to be deeply subsidized by the govt. (taxpayers). So there is a lot of media fodder surrounding it. There are legitimate concerns about managing nuclear that are different to coal, but that won’t really stop anything.

    Let me give you another example of what I’m intending to show. You’ve probably passively observed the hoopla in media over Big Oil VS Bio Fuel makers, right? Big Oil wants you to think that scary terrorists are not worth doing business with, and Bio Fuel folks want you to think we can grow algae for gas. Both sides resort to the controversy of Global Warming whenever convenient. Although climate change is very real, it’s prone to being used as a symbol for supposedly illegitimate fears – just like Godzilla. All Big Oil has to do is shout hoax and Liberal media bias to force the wedge. The same idea goes for nuclear VS coal.It becomes a wedge point in the minds of ignorant consumers who can’t think critically about the substance of the topic. People right away throw out climate change and oil spills as reasons not to allow off-shore drilling, but that distracts the public from larger concerns.

    The bigger issue media should be talking about is why it’s even necessary to drill in the ocean in the first place. If off-shore drilling rigs are far more costly to build and maintain than oil rigs on land, why does the oil industry want to spend more money to do this? The answer is not because they’re tired of doing business in the middle-east, it’s because land-accessible oil is quickly disappearing. The middle-east was once home to the largest oil reservoirs in the world, but even they now are resorting to off-shore drilling. You’re never encouraged to think of these facts in mainstream media, and it not because of a Liberal agenda. It’s because of an Economic agenda.

    Like water for producing electricity, oil for producing agriculture to feed everyone and sell them the latest electronic gizmo is running short. But you don’t find enough real discourse about this in mainstream media. Instead, idiots who can’t think beyond the way issues are framed in the media are left hopelessly divided on the issues.

  13. Alan Wergedal said

    So this is SPIN i can believe any one would actually read this and agree or disagree!!!!! Did you even read the blog post?

    Dr E wrote “This blog post will not be an attempt to defend or defame nuclear energy or the nuclear power industry, but rather to explore the source of public perceptions about the nuclear power industry and how the media have contributed to that perception.”
    “Of course who can blame us for being a little nervous. Godzilla” this was written in the post as well.

    Please show me where in this entire article or the links where there is one positive image or reference to Nuclear power?This type of blog post is why Nuclear energy has a bad rap this is spin and all about telling you ‘i am not biased but i am’.

    Nuclear energy IS dangerous and wait SO is every other kind of energy! Mara Hvistendahl of Scientific America claims in 2007 that Coal Ash is more radioactive than the nuclear waste. (1) Scientific America points out “Coal, meanwhile, is believed responsible for a host of more quotidian problems, such as mining accidents, acid rain and greenhouse gas emissions”.(1)

    Did Dr E take into account the other side of the argument? Such as this statement by the World Nuclear Association, “Apart from Chernobyl, no nuclear workers or members of the public have ever died as a result of exposure to radiation due to a commercial nuclear reactor incident”.2(2)

    This is all spin from every side but Dr. E. did a good job at spin not at being impartial. Maybe the question he asked and answered in his post wasn’t the one he really meant to ask and that it was really did you pay attention to the way he did it. Dr. E’s class is about media and the effects it has on people and he knows how to twist it as well as anyone does. I look at this post as a learning tool to be better educated on the media and not on the content.

    1. Mara Hvistendahl Sceintific America 2007
    2. Unknown World Nuclear Association 29 March 2011

  14. Alex Timmons said

    Alan, there are several subtle and favorable remarks about “relatively” safe nuclear technology within the two reference articles. Not only does one have to read, they have to deduce the implied standpoints of the authors.

    What Dr E. did was synthesize the core premises of each article to produce a focal point for discussion. Although Dr E. and the other authors did not write enough personalized quotes for you to copy and paste into your own post, the implication that nuclear power facilities are statistically safe, plus the suggestion that media coverage conduces to the spread of irrational public fear of nukes was quite clear. Whether one agrees with the premises or the larger idea that media are merely spreading fear for fear’s sake is another matter.

    I’d be willing to take a giant leap and say that Dr. E probably feels similar to the other authors in that nuclear technology is essentially statistically sound. I gathered this when I read that despite the negative imagery linked to nuclear power-plants, few deaths have occurred as a result of its use. If you missed these remarks, then reread.

    There is a quantitative argument for nuclear energy that makes rational sense, yet there is a qualitative argument against nuclear that persuades as well. The qualitative argument is far more nuanced and would require a lot more time and space, so instead the authors (and possibly Dr E.) present what I consider to be a bit of a red herring discussion about nuclear energy and pop-culture media history.

    I also read awhile back the article from Scientific American on which you hinged your own opinion. All I can say is be careful about which sources of authority you rely on for shaping your personal views. I know people are trained to cite authority in order to boost credibility but eminence is not the same as evidence, and facts can be cherry-picked. Those articles are written for us laypeople and they’re written with more of a public relations-type style of journalism; meaning, it’s hard to tell if there isn’t some underlying sort of agenda inherent to the publication itself. For every one of those supposedly scientific articles, there is another science-based piece claiming the exact opposite.

  15. Shilay Willis said

    The media has a way of making us believe anything. It has that much power. I think that maybe we need to know the positive side of nuclear energy. I think that it would be okay to use this if it is done safely and America not have a Japan incident. I don’t think there needs to be a plant in Pueblo, CO. That would not be something that I support. maybe in an area where the population is 0. There are positives how ever and we shoud educate ourselves on those.

  16. Alan Wergedal said

    Alex actually i did the exact same thing that Dr E did in the other direction. It makes no mention of my personal opinion of nuclear power or his.
    I used rhetoric which is what the media uses and actually used the information to prove spin is easy. I didn’t say i was for or against it merely pointed out the truth of the way it was written. We all can find facts that contradict a point to anything that’s what media does write opinion with some base fact.
    He used spin is my claim not for or against anything. this class is about media and i took it from the stand point of media not for or against.

  17. Alex said

    Ummm, well, thanks for clarifying… lol

    I realize now that although I was taught to read early on, I escaped high school having never learned to comprehend, perhaps even my own thoughts.

    I foolishly mistook,

    [[“So this is SPIN i can believe any one would actually read this and agree or disagree!!!!! Did you even read the blog post?”]]

    as an indication of ones opinion.

    I also mistook,

    “Please show me where in this entire article or the links where there is one positive image or reference to Nuclear power?This type of blog post is why Nuclear energy has a bad rap this is spin and all about telling you ‘i am not biased but i am’.”

    as an indication of ones opinion.

    I also mistook,

    [[[[Mara Hvistendahl of Scientific America claims in 2007 that Coal Ash is more radioactive than the nuclear waste. (1) Scientific America points out “Coal, meanwhile, is believed responsible for a host of more quotidian problems, such as mining accidents, acid rain and greenhouse gas emissions”.(1)]]]]


    [[[Did Dr E take into account the other side of the argument? Such as this statement by the World Nuclear Association, “Apart from Chernobyl, no nuclear workers or members of the public have ever died as a result of exposure to radiation due to a commercial nuclear reactor incident”.2(2)]]]

    to be an indication of a one sided claim that nuclear tech is relatively safe, thus preferable to coal. What a dazzling use of rhetoric for the purpose of spin.

    Sometimes at night I look up and notice stars shooting so fast and far over my head that I find it next to impossible to know from what direction they came.

  18. Jacob Chavez said

    I agree with Brittny we would not want a godzilla in Pueblo. But I wouldn’t mind if Pueblo West was first to go if he was born. On a real note I don’t mind a Nuclear Plant at all just as long as it is made way out in the middle of nowhere land. I think it would be a good idea to help out jobs around the community.When your on the Northside you see a lot of bums it could help the bums get a job. As for the Nuclear accidents yes they are bad and they might happen but there are ways to prevent them so I think that either way its good and bad.

  19. Mary Jane MCCM 101 said

    Looking more on the creative aspect of Nuclear power, it seems to go good. Whether or not the effects of nuclear power are good or bad, Fiction appears to benefits highly from it. Godzilla is a classic and who doesn’t remember the ninja turtles. Taking serious situations and putting them into a fictional pot, one takes then tension of the topic and two and is able to shows how media takes our society and uses it to their advantage.

  20. Amanda Norris MCCM 101 said

    regardless if nuclear energy is a realistic alternate-fuel source there is no deneying that the media does give it a bad wrap. It is nearly impossible to find a good example of nuclear waste in pop culture. The closet thing would probably be that at least the Mutant Teenage Ninja Turtles fight crime.What’s more is that there aren’t other energy sources getting bad reps per say in pop culture. Theres not a cartoon depicting a character altered by fossil fuel pollutants.So maybe the media unfairly potrays Nuclear engery, and there are indeed risks to this alternate fuel source, but it is important to keep exploring different sources other than fossil fuels and including nuclear as means for energy.

  21. Aj Ayala said

    The thought on Nuclear power mostly come from the media. Yes there are a few bad things that can happen and the events that showed those happening have been few. The people just base their nuclear power knowledge on what Mass Media is telling them. Do some research and Nuclear power plants are actually really effective at powering an entire city with little effort. Even the biggest fear of radiation poisoning is not really coming true. For instance the indecent at T.M.I though there was damage it really wasn’t to anything except the facility itself, and the radiation from the indecent wasn’t significant enough to cause any harm. Even in Japan the radiation level are higher, but the people are only ADVISED to wear the masks and the radiation detector around their necks. I think if people were to really learn about nuclear energy and how effective and efficient it really is, everyone’s fears would die down pretty quick.

  22. Alex Miller said

    I feel that Nuclear power is a strong and reliable alternative source for fossil fuels. Media tells about Nuclear Power plants being extremely dangerous and potentially deadly. The media can portray an image about almost any object. If the media puts out all of these negative characteristics about nuclear power plants, than society is going to start to lean toward the media’s side. I think that Nuclear energy is a positive alternative to using fossil fuels. Fossil Fuels are precious and once there gone there gone. Its time to start exploring the energy world to find positive and safe alternatives to energy.

  23. Viviana Daghero de Molina said

    Nuclear’s PR Problem
    The resent event at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear facility makes me remember one of the contemporary theories of Media Effect called “Agenda-Setting”. This theory said that when the media concentrate their attention to certain event or topic by providing a full coverage they set the major topic of discussion among individual and in the society. The media is a business, and business means profit. The vehicle they use to obtain profits is by informing the public about events, without forgetting that they have to be profitable. That is why there are different types and quality of information. It is the responsibility of the lector to choose a reliable and scientific source to be properly informed, especially when the topic is technically demanding like nuclear plant and radioactivity.
    It has been taught in collages that the media and its messages cannot change the opinion already formed in educated audience but can shape and engraved ideas and opinion in uneducated audience. We don’t have to blindly believe on the first information we received about this or any other topic.
    A failure in a nuclear plant is a catastrophe. No doubt about this. But so it is an airplane crash and still being the safer mean of transportation. What type of power plant generation has caused more casualties along the history? The one that use coal as a combustible, with the carbon foot print, and the green house effect that they generate, or the one that used the power of the atoms?
    I am not taking any side, since my point here is to make a point that, if an individual wants to be properly informed, he/she has to carefully choose the source from which they are being informed. It is their responsibility and they have to be aware of this.

  24. Jareth Thomas said

    The media has not given nuclear power a very good shake. The first truly well known event with anything nuclear was the dropping of the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. From then on, there was never truly a good connotation for anything with nuclear in its name. The only significant nuclear events that have truly been known since then were all negative to the American people at the time; the communist obtaining nuclear weaponry, the cuban missile crisis, the chernobyl nuclear disaster, the three mile island incident, and the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan. These were all horrible but some of the goods of nuclear energy are that it is a sfae and reliable energy when handled correctly.

    The U.S. military and others use nuclear powered ships and there strict policies are what make these things that would normally be high priority targets to any enemy force still able to function. I couldn’t think of anyone who would shoot and destroy a nuclear reactor but we put them in places where they will surely come into danger yet who has heard of a military nuclear disaster. The biggest ships in the navy, the carriers all have nuclear reactors yet most american people don’t object to those. I think media has given nuclear energy a bad name. There never was a chance for the nuclear idea to go beyond something that can cause destruction. in the minds of the people.

  25. daniel Bashian said

    the media sure doesn’t give nuclear power positive attention. the only positive thing i have heard was after the bombs were dropped on japan, and that wasn’t because we killed so many people and devastated a country is was simply it ended all the death of war, and that isn’t really all that positive. and it seems like all we here about nuclear power is that so much can go wrong with when a natural disaster occurs. like any information comming from the news it is mostly negative , so it would be strange for a news broadcast to inform us on the good that a nuclear power plant is causing.

  26. Anna MCCNM 101 said

    I believe the resounding NO from Pueblo’s officials recently is a great indication of how the media’s portrayal of Japan’s current nuclear crisis can have a direct effect on one’s opinion.

  27. Ken V said

    Well I agree with Alex that we do need to start exploring alternate routes for energy. But the question that was asked was “Has the media fairly covered nuclear energy?” I think it’s the same that we have discussed in class. The majority of people who watch the news tend to see nothing but the bad and ugly that is going on in the world. Anytime anything major like this occurs the media will reference a past event similar to the current one. They remind the viewer about the negative the prior event. It was similar to when 9/11 happened. The first thing it was being compared to was Pearl Harbor for the obvious reasons. I think with these nuclear events in Japan happening so close to the Chernobyl 25 year anniversary was even more of a reason to remind the people of what “could” happen. I think this is also due to the fact that a lot of people either forget about history or are simply too young to remember certain events. Just on April 25, 2011, the website published an article on the 25th year anniversary for Chernobyl. The article has had some very eerie photos of Chernobyl.

  28. charles cruz said

    Chernobyl is a bad example to ever use for Nuclear power disaster because it was caused by workers performing unsafe and unauthorized experiments. In which they took out controll rods one by one till the reactor went critical. And the Nuclear event in Japan was due to the facitlity needing to be replaced almost a decade ago and being built over 50 years ago. On cold war technology that would hardly pass current regulations.

    Charles Cruz

  29. Katy Carpio said

    The “Jane Fonda Effect” is much more powerful than any other at determining public opinion. Ultimately, Americans have a hard enough time with what happened on the most recent episode of American Idol to bother educating themselves about anything in particular. There are exceptions, of course, but it’s a simple matter of strolling around a city asking questions to prove that the public at large has no clue about almost any given thing. So, where does “knowledge” come from? Most of the time, it does come from Hollywood movie magic. People see something involving big budget special effects and automatically assume that that has to be true. The fact that Americans seem to eat up media induced fear like it’s candy adds to the problem, and the fact that people can be exposed to an infinite amount of (almost universally incorrect) information on the internet makes the problem insurmountable.

  30. Vanessa Emerson said

    While reading the effects of nuclear advertisement in the media I will know for a fact I have been a victim of slurring the nuclear companies that work in America. I agree this has a lot to do with the media and the way that they portray the nuclear industry. Much of the information we receive comes from the negative of danger and fear that we get installed in us. I learned of the effects of the Chernobyl reactor in the Ukraine as I grow up, people developing lung cancer, deformed babies, the documentary on the situation horrified me. I can say I have never ever really heard what good the nuclear plants have done for the world. I believe this goes back to the media scaring society and building a mind set off of that fear. I worry how easy this is for the media to do and how unfair it comes across for these industries. It truly doesn’t do anyone any justices keeping everyone uninformed or give a false depiction of event.

  31. Rick K. Hernandez said

    While I believe that nuclear power is great source of energy and the safety record for nuclear reactors is overall pretty good, the fact is if there is an accident whether it be man made or an act of nature it can be quite disasterous like what happen in Japan or Chernoybol the fact is it does have a pretty good track record. The problem is no one wants to live close to one of these plants out of fear of a worst case senario should an accident happen. I believe that it is a great source of needed energy. So if we build they need to be isolated away from population centers and the best people need to be hired to operate these plans.

  32. shelby wofford said

    I agree that the media does not focus enough on the positive of the nuclear plants, however I also think that is because when ever nuclear comes into play its always about weapons and then memories of what America did to Japan flood back and make it bad. I think nuclear power needs to disappear all together and cleaner energy such as wind farms and solar farms need to be more utilized. Anything can happen and the fear of a possible threat to a nuclear power plant is possible. I think no matter what the public will always be concerned about using nuclear power because of how dangerous the material is.

  33. Garrett Dalrymple said

    The media is using the strategy of recursion used by Ryan holiday in his confessions of a media manipulator slide show. They use multiple outlets including cartoons in order to build up a negative base against nuclear power. This is a great example of just how important pubic relationship representatives are. Nuclear energy companies now hire many people to try and build a positive public relationship. now a days it is becoming less and less about the issues and more about who can make it look better. That is the true job of the PR spokesperson.

  34. Caleb MIranda said

    Before reading and listening to the podcast about public relations and the idea to bring back nuclear power into the United States, i did not know to much about the topic and therefore had little opinion except for what i knew from past problems. All i knew was that a reactor broke down in Fukushima and how i heard about how food water and soil being tainted with radiation and made it dangerous for human life! Then i heard and watched a movie about the chernobyl reactor breakdown and how it killed a good number of the workers and effected the life of the people with radiation poisoning, cancer and mutations! What i didn’t know was that our resources for energy (fossil fuels) was running out, and therefore leaving a crises in the near future. After reading and listening to the podcast i know that there arent many possitve things to look forward to with nuclear energy, and therefore i think that nuclear energy is a risky matter. With more research on how to make it safer and more known about, maybe it can become the new reliable source, but untill then clean energy such as wind and solar, would be a more reliable and safe choice.

  35. Allison Narro said

    Before this topic was brought up in class all I really knew about nuclear energy was when we dropped the nuclear bomb on Japan during World War 2. Growing up I always thought nuclear power was a negative thing just from what we learned in grade school. I don’t necessarily think it’s a bad thing but it’s definitely not a good thing. There is not enough research that has been done to make sure it is safe enough and no one will be exposed to anything harmful from this type of energy. We are in a stable situation with the sources of energy we do have, so I don’t see why we have to add something else that could potentially become a risk to our society. After listening to the podcast and reading the article I found that some people are not giving the public all the details and that is something that news reporters need to figure out. They need to make sure they are getting their facts from reliable sources.

  36. Ikechukwu Iheanaju said

    The stigma surrounding nuclear energy is not a good way. The word nuclear has a negative connotation to it due to the way it is portrayed by the media. When thinking of nuclear anything, the first things that come to mind are Hiroshima, destruction, war, and devastation. I am one of many who have not heard any of the positives to nuclear energy and still do not know any of the positives for it. The only time I hear anything positive about nuclear things is when it is being suggested as use in a war situation. If we are to look at nuclear things in a positive manner then there has to be an overwhelming amount of reconditioning done by the media to get people to be swayed toward it. I think nuclear weapons have made a scar on the minds of the people on earth because of the lasting effects and severity of damage they cause when used in the wrong manner. The weapons have outweighed the benefits of nuclear anything.

  37. avion said

    After listening to the post on OTM and reading the article I agree with the idea of using nuclear energy. I am well aware of how certain events can be warped as a result of the media fanning flames to incite panic. I feel this is what is happening to the idea of nuclear energy, the author of the article talks about how he grew up down the road from the three mile island down wind in fact and explains how exaggerated the incident became. Not only where there no direct deaths from the accident there where no injuries. I am not an expert on nuclear energy or natural gasses and fossil fuels, but I know that public panic and cause people to demonize anything. The OTM post talked about how there has not been a plant built since 1979 I feel with more exposure to nuclear energy people will eventually warm up to the idea. According to this blog post the only nuclear accident that resulted in deaths was Chernobyl in 1968. Its about time to give nuclear energy another chance.

  38. Cortland Gillum-Randolph said

    The stigma around Nuclear energy is strongly driven by the media and use of the word “nuclear”. I think that nuclear energy is a good thing and a great way to generate energy. I think as a country we often first think about nuclear weapons when we hear the word nuclear. These are two different things and are often confused.

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