News Analysis of the Fukushima Accident: Lack of Information Disclosure, Radiation Fears and Accountability Issues

  • Lazic, Dragana (University of Tsukuba (Japan), Graduate School of Humanities and Social Sciences)
  • Published : 2013.10.31


Previous research assessed media reporting on nuclear accidents and risks, whilst studies about the Fukushima accident focused on the impact of the Internet on coverage of the incident. However, little research has addressed news framing or comparisons of the perceptions of journalists in relation to reporting nuclear accidents. The aim of this study is to apply framing analysis to news content in The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and USA Today about the Fukushima accident. It explores the question of how journalists view reporting on complex events. Content analysis of these three newspapers shows that conflict, responsibility, and economic consequences were the most frequently used frames. According to the journalists interviewed, the biggest problem was the inability to assess information due to contrary positions held by experts. It is argued that the Fukushima accident was framed as a conflict of experts and officials' opinions, utility and government officials' responsibility, and economic consequences for the United States. Adherence to professional norms of objectivity and impartiality was signified as the best approaches to risk reporting.



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