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What’s with the sensationalist headline and lurid photo of the April 13 front-page article “Fukushima crisis now at Chernobyl level“?! The front page lead story, together with the photo editor’s choice of what appears to be a possibly out-of control, post-explosion, burning reactor enclosure — actually a seven-minute battery fire — clearly blared that something happened to dramatically escalate conditions at Tepco’s nuclear power plant. But it didn’t, did it? The page scared the crap out of thousands of readers. For what reason? Grab the kids and head for the airport!

I can understand that Fukushima is now ranked with Chernobyl. The Fukushima crisis reached Chernobyl level within days of March 11. A headline a little closer to the fact would be “Fukushima crisis re-evaluated at Chernobyl level.”

What is the real story here? The nuclear watchdog withheld a true assessment!? A credibility issue? (Two “expert” agencies have dramatically different radiation measurements.) Or maybe “NISA incapable of crisis assessment”?

The headline clearly implies the crisis has dramatically escalated to Chernobyl level. But the crisis hasn’t changed at all, has it? The description of the crisis has changed. And where did the key point of this amazing headline appear? In the last paragraph: NISA said it didn’t come forward with an assessment earlier because it didn’t have a certain amount of data to “make sure.” Now that’s professional news writing.

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

gordon jolley

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
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