ERIC Number: ED184144
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1980-Mar
Reference Count: 0
Mass Media and the Debate about Nuclear Power.
Sawyer, Thomas M.
Many factors contribute to the difficulties the media have in dealing with science, engineering, and technology. These difficulties were pointed up in the media coverage of the March 1979 accident at the Three Mile Island nuclear plant, which reflected confusion and lack of understanding and which combined with other factors (including the movie "The China Syndrome" and mass demonstrations against nuclear power) to arouse unjustified public fears of nuclear power plants. Science and technology are difficult to explain simply for many reasons, including science's reliance on unfamiliar mathematical language, the difficulty of grasping laws of probability, and the large amounts of space necessary to explain long chains of scientific deductions and the complex systems involved in technological developments. In addition, certain aspects of journalism and television make it difficult for them to report about science and technology, including their need to cater to audiences' desires for dramatic accounts and the small time spaces allotted to television news stories. Finally, engineers may find it difficult to handle news events and public controversy because they cannot imagine that anyone doubts the veracity of scientists and because they openly analyze and criticize every aspect of every available solution to problems, reporting all the facts they know without selection. (GT)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Nuclear Power Plants
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Conference on College Composition and Communication (31st, Washington, DC, March 13-15, 1980).