Tuesday, July 17, 2007

CNN, Kashiwazaki NPP, and the 2007 Niigata Earthquake

(ed: I normally don't blog about non-technical issues, but this chaps my cheeks to no end)

If you haven't heard yesterday an earthquake happened of the coast off the Niigata prefecture in Japan. It had a magnitude of 6.8 and caused serious problems for the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa NPP. A transformer caught fire at unit 3 (there are 7 units) and radioactive liquids spilled into the ocean. This is obviously a serious event and should be treated as such, however, the news coverage was yellow journalism at best. All of the initial reports were sensationalist and biased with little facts (partially due to the tight lipped nature of TEPCO) to support any of their claims.

To see how bad the yellow journalism got just read the following headline blurb:
Radioactive leak, tremors follow Japan quake
A strong earthquake struck northwestern Japan today, causing a radioactive leak and fire at one of the world's most powerful nuclear power plants. Eight people were killed and hundreds injured. The plant leaked about 315 gallons of water, according to a Tokyo Electric official.
So, how many casualties were a result of the radioactive leak and fire:
  • 8 deaths and hundreds of injuries
  • 6 deaths and hundreds of injuries
  • 1 death and tens of injuries
  • 0 deaths and 0 injuries
If you guessed 0 and 0 you would be right!

But wait...

Didn't the blurb say that eight people died and hundreds were injured by the radioactive leak and fire?! Why yes, yes it did. This is far from ethical, yet CNN went right ahead and posted that online.

Don't believe me? Check out this screenshot of CNN's misrepresentation of the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa leak and fire.

1 comment:

Rogue Medic said...

People assume that something that appears on CNN will be accurate. Too often, that is not the case, as you demonstrate.