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Environment

Nuclear Whiplash Journalism

Collide-a-ScapeBy Keith KloorMarch 17, 2011 1:37 AM

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A commenter sums up the media's schizophrenic coverage of Japan's nuclear disaster (as communicated via expert opinion) :

"It's horrible!" "It's no big deal" "Worst thing Evah" "No, it's minor and under control" "Run for your lives!" "You're fine." You can actually see the frustration on the journalists faces. "Science" says everyone's dead and everyone's fine. Which is it?

Part of the reason for this confusion is that we're in uncharted territory with this nuclear meltdown story, and another part, I think, is the "whiplash" nature of journalism (something Andy Revkin has frequently talked about with respect to the climate beat), which is playing out now in a high alert, real-time, 24/7 manner. Those of you lost in what Clive Crook calls the media's "nuclear fog" can share his frustration here. He's trying to navigate his way to clarity, with mixed results.

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