From the forums on the Department of Nuclear Engineering University of Berkeley, California website
National Desk Rejected My Stories On FukushimaSubmitted by So Cal newswriter (not verified) on Thu, 2011-04-21 02:20.
I write for a national newswire and am based in Southern California. I wrote two stories a few weeks ago on Fukushima and submitted them for national distribution. They were turned down. One story was about Tepco’s plans to build two nuclear plants in Texas (from Truth-Out.org, Greg Palast).
The other was about the high I-131 readings measured in rainwater a few weeks ago.
Stations all over the country use our service. I believe–firmly–that this story should not have been silenced so quickly. What’s happening in Japan is tragic, and the people working in that toxic stew are heroes. They are literally risking or giving their lives for their countrymen, and if that’s not patriotic, I don’t know what is. Whatever it is, it’s heroic and has meaning for us here.
My boss told me “our stations don’t want to carry stuff like that.” “Stuff like that” being news that is controversial or which contradicts what the mainstream news organizations are putting out. He questioned me about my “sources” and seemed to imply that my judgement might be suspect.
So the stories I write have been censored from within the organization, and there isn’t a thing I can do about it.
Part of the problem is that, though many people here (on this forum) know that the cable channels and networks are owned by weapons-makers and nuclear interests, there isn’t a general awareness of this in the public mind. People watch the TV news and that’s what they deem credible. If the TV isn’t covering it, if the radio isn’t covering it, then it’s probably not worth worrying about. In my 17 years in news radio, I’ve come to find that the Internet, some print journalism and books are the most reliable journalistic sources (depending, of course). Broadcast news suffers for personnel and so the reporters just do whatever public officials decide is a story, or they take their stories from print media. There’s no manpower for investigative reporting, with the exception of NPR. The problem is that many, many people don’t use the Internet, and don’t know it can be trusted. They use TV and radio. And the cable channels refer to “blogs” and “Internet reports” with the kind of condescension that’s guaranteed to convey to their audience that nothing on the Internet is trustworthy. Even though Propublica took the Pulitzer for national investigative reporting–an online publication–the Internet is regarded by far too many as unreliable for news.
I worked for many years at an NPR station and during that time we had the three cable news channels on in the control room (with the sound off) to monitor for breaking news. I got to see every day how those channels ignored stories that are extremely relevant, including the fact that high-ranking military personnel were dissenters of the Iraq war, including the questions that remain about 9/11, the deregulation of Wall Street, the list goes on and on.
What’s really bothering me is that I find I don’t have the words to explain to people how censored their news really is. I just don’t know how. Including with my boss, who watches those channels and is probably mad at me for saying there’s no news on them. There’s a bit of news, to be sure. People watch them because there’s just no other choice.
My understanding is that the airwaves are to be used–at least partially– for the public good. This is no longer the case. It’s not even a question of ratings. It’s a question of what stories might hurt the ownership’s interests. The person who posted GE’s broadcast holdings makes a great point. Just follow the money, that’s always where the answer seems to be..
In the meantime I have been discouraged and have submitted no stories on the nuclear situation. I write for Southern California and that’s my beat. But the national desk still has the option to vet and distribute my stories–and they will not. And it’s not some sneaky conspiracy. It’s not because we’re owned by nuclear interests (like MSNBC). The editors’ ideas about credible news sources are based on what people already watch and nothing else. They are resistant to anything that seems to color outside the lines. They help the censors without even realizing what they’re doing.
I told you this was easy.
Thank you, friends.