Nuclear media storm? How should we react?

I was feeling overwhelmed by the topic and quantity of news of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami last week. My heart breaks for those who lost everything and now look at a soupy mess where their homes and jobs once stood, and struggle for shelter and food right now. I was also a bit disgusted by the vast number of experts quoted, and the number of otherwise qualified experts, using up media time to “report” on the expected further devastation. How much of this is truth and fair warning and how much is alarmist and reactionary? And, is a nuclear reactor expert here in the USA an expert of ALL nuclear reactors? Or are there brands and models and customizations that make the Japan situation particular…so therefore what the heck does anyone know if they don’t work there?

So today, I spotted a FaceBook link reference posted by my son-in-law, John Travis, for the BBC College of Journalism analysis of the coverage. Fiona Fox, Director of the Science Media Centre writes about all the coverage, the experts called upon and their numbers, some who even may have intentionally used “alarmist narrative.” And then she points to the contrast of coverage with this week. Please read her post here:

Media meltdown

Ah ha, I say. I wasn’t going crazy.

I am not sure we need as much news and information as we are served. It’s like all day buffet and even the biggest news junkie could overdose on the amount of words spewed on a daily basis. Like a buffet, it’s tempting to over absorb and get too full. My dad used to tell us “Don’t talk just to hear yourself talk.” He’d also say, “Move with authority.” I’m not saying that earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster is not news. Far from it. But it’s a little like Chicken Little and the sky falling. Is it really?

Give and get the facts.

Then let’s move forward.

I think desperation breeds desperation. It was refreshing to find some folks moving forward but their stories were small. So small I can’t find any decent story links for you to read about them. Search Fairfax Fire & Rescue to Japan for one. I’d like to read more about them. Most of my questions have been about what life is like, how can we help, what can be done? It turns out I found the most practical answers in the UMCOR website coverage. 

Japan hasn’t asked for help, yet. And, it’s not exactly easy to send stuff to them. Truthfully, it’s still early yet and recovery will take some serious administration and logistics to make sense. I imagine, since there are still earthquakes in the area, it’s all folks can handle to stay sheltered. Rev. Cynthia Fierro Harvey, Deputy General Secretary for UMCOR writes,

“Many supplies are available in Japan and sending funds directly to our partners supports the local economy while ensuring that they are getting exactly what they need. I am always sad when I visit Haiti and other disaster affected areas and see the unopened boxes of clothes, medicine, and equipment that go unused because well meaning people have misdirected their good will. A practical example was pointed out to me by a physician in Haiti, who explained that it is important to purchase medicine in the country because the directions for use will be in the native language. An additional concern is that sending an unsolicited shipment into the disaster area runs the risk of hampering relief efforts, clogging runways, and creating an added burden to the system because there is no efficient way to distribute the shipment. Please consider your local thrift store for these kinds of thoughtful donations.”

I wish information like this was included in general coverage by media. I’m more interested in the practical, and not the tabloid spins, or alarmist narratives, that could twist this into something very different.

The best thing you and I can do is to go about our business, love our families, get ourselves in order, and stay in prayer for victims and for those who are moving with authority, getting the hard work done.


I’m honored and grateful this post was mentioned by Glynn Young in his weekly Saturday Good Reads at his blog, Faith, Fiction, Friends. Thank you for stopping by!


About Robin Arnold

Reader, writer, gardener, geek, maker of homes in several states, now settled in Virginia with husband Bob, and Hazel and Wilson the tabby cats.
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4 Responses to Nuclear media storm? How should we react?

  1. okiewife says:

    Finally. A common sense article about Japan with none of the media alarmist spin. Thank you.

  2. Billy Coffey says:

    Amen, Robin. I'm convinced much of the world's trouble is the result of 24-hour news channels.

  3. nance marie says:

    thank you, robin.this is a thoughtful perspective.

  4. jasonS says:

    Robin, this is how I felt after the Virginia Tech shootings. It was all designed to keep us hooked wi 'new information' and it wasn't helpful. I genuinely felt depressed after watching the repeat for a full day and I watch news sparingly ever since. For some reason reading it isn't as bad for me. I like this. Get the info, respond, and move on when possible. That's all we can do. Thanks for the great post.

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