Fukushima Nuclear Crisis Media Views from United States, United Kingdom, Australia and India

This new post also analizes media coverage about the current Fukusuhima nuclear crisis concerning elements of its storyline, similar to precedent post. Media from all over the world are presenting Fukushima events in cover page news. The potential extent of the disaster and the present high degree of incertitude captures media attention worldwide. But this Japanese crisis is perceived to some extent a crisis with local ramifications in each country, in different ways: some countries are concerned by their nationals staying in Japan and about possible evacuation plans, there is also concern about the impact of radioactive clouds, or the presence of radioativity from people and goods coming from Japan. There is finally a huge concern about security of local nuclear plants, and in general about national nuclear policies in countries using nuclear power.

We show in this post a comparative analysis of the media storyline about the Fukushima crisis concerning some of the elements of the discourse. We have chosen the media from the following four countries: United States, United Kingdom, Australia and India. We count with countries from four continents. Three of them use profusely nuclear power, while Australia does not use this source of energy.

We indicate in the following figure the number of news about Fukushima nuclear crisis from newspapers in each country included in our sample. The analysis of storyline is based in the content analysis of all these news. We count with more than 50,000 different news published by US newspapers. This is tenfold the number of press appaerances from United Kingdom and Australia. We have more than 1,700 news from media in India.

The interpretation of the results is as follows: we check the news content from every country, looking for the same storyline components. For each country we measure afterwards the weight that each component has in the national media steolyline. Weights among countries are thus strictly comparable. A higher weight in a country in comparison to other countries reflect that this country is using more extensively this component in relative terms to construct the Fukushima storyline.

We show some empirical examples in the following graphs. By consulting the results it will appear clear that in general the storyline followed in four countries from four different continents follows basically the same basic trend. Even if media are completely independent, facts about Fukushima crisis are essentially explained in the same way in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia and India. It is a result that we should expect. The absence of surprising results concerning expected results is in fact an empirical test and proof about the reliability of the methodology that we propose as a way to identify the storyline of events with substantial media impact and its evolution in time. This result also gives robustness to the interpretation of departing cases from the common trend: given the fact that in general all countries share the same storyline, when media of a specific country depart from common pattern insisting more or less in a specific point, then it is reasonable to assume that media from this country have own local reasons to react differently to average concerning this issue.

First figure shows how the references to past nuclear accidents or bombing (Hiroshima) are introduced in the news about Fukushima. Chernobyl is the main reference in all cases, followed by Three Mile Island and Hiroshima. This is an indirect way to estimate how media compares the seriousness of the actual crisis. References to a Level 7 (Chernobyl) crisis triple references to Level 5 accident (Three Mile Island). Only today Thursday 18 March the Japanese NISA has raised the evaluation of the Fukushima nuclear accident from Level 4 to Level 5. IAEA agrees in the update.

We can also observe that media in India and Australia are much more sensitive to past nuclear accidents than media from United States and United Kindgom.

Second figure shows the relative presence in the storyline of some of the main issues related with the nuclear crisis at this point. We have chosen five elements, and we find that they share basically the same importance in news content. Explosion, meltdown, radioactive and evacuated are all issues which media impact in Fukushima news search 6-8 points. Only radiation takes a significative higher position, attaining 11 points of media impact.

Looking for national media preferences, we find that US media insist more on radioactive and meltdown, UK media refers more to meltdown and evacuation, India media is by far more sensitive to radiation and radiactive issues. Australia focus in evacuation.

In a precedent post we showed the time evolution of some of these storyline elements.

Third figure contains a key element in the construction of all the storyline skeleton. In answer the question Fukushima is a “nuclear what” according to the media? The result we show here refer to news published from the begining of the emergence of the problems. Up to this point, Fukushima is mainly described as a “nuclear crisis” (4.1 points of media impact). This is no more a simple “nuclear crisis” (0.5 points of media impact) as it could be considered in some countries in the early stages of the nuclear problem, but according to media views, it is no yet a “nuclear disaster” (1.0 points). The relative weight of each one of these storyline components evolves in time, as we have shown in a precedent post, and provides many useful insights.

In this moment, there are only marginal references to Fukushima as an apocalyptic event, despite the statement made few days ago in this sense by the Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger from the European Union. Only minor references also to “nuclear tragedy”.

In international comparison, United States media prefer to use the wording “nuclear crisis”, “nuclear disaster” and “nuclear accident” is more used in India. United Kindom and Australia refer to it profusely as a “nuclear emergency”.

Next three figures refer to the sources used by the media covering the nuclear crisis. First one represents the weight given to news agencies. In contrast with precedent examples, we do not observe here a common use of news sources, and it’s apparently very oriented by national considerations. Local news agency Kyodo is the main reference for Australia media. It is the second source for all other countries. Preferred source for United States media is Associated Press, Reuters in England and India. AFP plays a relevant role for Australian media but not for the other countries. Business orinted news provider american Bloomber plays a marginal role, and it is used mainly by US newspapers.

Next figure shows results concerning leading newspapers and TV broadcasters. Main reference here is local Japanese public TV NHK, as many public announcements are aired by this source. BBC is by far the main reference for United Kindgom media (1.2 points of media impact), and is followed far away by the local newspaper The Guardian (0.17 points). In the United States, NHK is the basic reference, followed at a big distance by CNN and New York Times. Media from Australia rely on NHK, and then BBC (we have not included in this sample local Australian newspapers). India also prefers BBC to CNN and New York Times.

Comparing data from figures 4 and 5 we observe that only NHK is used as source as many times as leading news agencies.

Third figure about sources considers reference to social media. The leading reference is Twitter. Facebook follows, and is even the reference for traditional media from Australia. Google comes third in all countries. Youtube plays a minor role by comparison in terms of reference used by newspapers. We find finally that references to email are some 6-10 times higher than for sms.

Other references

Other references

Japan XIII. New York Times and Wall Street Journal Coverage of Japan Earthquake and Fukushima Nuclear Crisis (I)

Japan XII. Japan Prefectures Media Coverage. Relationship with Personnel and Property Casualties by Earthquake and Tsunami

Japan XI. Companies in Europe Most Affected by Japan Earthquake, Tsunami, Fukushima Nuclear Crisis, by Media Impact

Japan IX. Fukushima Nuclear Crisis Media Views in United States, United Kindgom, Australia and India.

Japan VIII. Wikileaks on Fukushima and the Japan Nuclear Crisis. Measurement of the Initial Media Storyline.

Japan VII. Fukushima as a Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster: Media References by Countries

Japan VI. Fukushima Second Explosion Media Perception Compared to First Blast

Japan V. Japan Earthquake Media Impact by Cities

Japan IV. Fukushima Nuclear Crisis Media Coverage Evolution