Asahi Shimbun journalist justifies his (and Japan’s) paper’s coverage of the 3-11 disasters.

When traces of radioactive caesium were detected at Tokyo’s water-treatment plants, all the expert opinion told us that it was still at levels that would not pose any danger to the public.

Now, if we had wanted to sell as many copies of our newspaper as possible, all we needed to do was publish a headline: “Tokyo’s water found to be radioactive!” You can guess what would happen if we did that – total panic. Instead, we chose to report the story, but with a less sensational headline.

Were we right to do so?

One of the difficulties we faced as a newspaper was answering the accusation that we were hiding vital information. The internet was filled with rumours, gossip, misinformation and unfortunately at times downright lies. People would read this and then ask why we, Asahi Shimbun, were not publishing it. That easily translated into the charge that we were working on behalf of the authorities and holding back the truth.

I suppose this demonstrates how important it is to encourage all consumers of news to discern carefully their information sources.

via Japan, the earthquake and the media | openDemocracy.


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