Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Paging Anderson Cooper

The Full Metal Archivist and I have been watching Anderson Cooper 360 religiously since he arrived in Japan and we've appreciated all the hard work he and the team of CNN reporters have done to bring stories and footage of the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear crisis to the world. But I have to wonder how much support they are getting from the entire CNN organization. It doesn't seem to be the case that there are many, if any, people at CNN capable of following Japanese television, newspaper, and other reporters, not to mention the social media, much less beginning to untangle the complex relations between the ruling party, the government bureaucracy, the media, the nuclear industry, and academia in Japan--and between them and the U.S. corporate and military worlds.

Not that the FMA and I have any expertise here, but here's what we've been able to do in the last hour, with a half-hour devoted to her research and a half-hour devoted to my writing. The Japan-based British news organization JiJi Press is reporting that General Electric played a role in designing the #1 and #2 reactors at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant where everything is going down. From that article alone, I'm not sure whether they designed the entire reactors, the generators that were supposed to power the back-up cooling systems, or what, but according to USA Today, they designed the Mark 1 boiling-water reactor. See the Nuclear Information and Resource Service for more on this type of reactor. and Tokyo Web: CNN's done a pretty good job reporting on TEPCO's dodgy history of plant safety and transparency, but they haven't done such a great job of following the behind-the-scenes story on TEPCO's strained relations with the Japanese Self-Defense Forces and U.S. military. These 2 articles suggest that there has been lots of communication and even coordination between the 3 organizations, but that the latter 2 haven't been able (and perhaps willing) to directly aid TEPCO's workers at the plant itself. Another JiJi Press story, this one about a nuclear worker in his 50s from outside Fukushima volunteering to go to the Dai-ichi plant. His company asked for 20 volunteers on what may end up as a suicide mission, and the story focuses on his decision, how he told his family, and how they reacted.

I know AC 360 tries to do sum-ups, but when breaking news hits, it seems to me they need better support.

[Update 1 (12:11 am): Don't even need knowledge of Japanese, just to follow the right people on twitter. Here's a great guide by Rick Martin. More from Akky Akimoto.]

[Update 2 (11:48 am): Here's another great site: live updates from the Great Tohoku Earthquake.]

[Update 3 (11:52 am): Global Voices is aggregating blogging on the earthquake, tsunami, and more.]

[Update 4 (12:05 pm): Some very good perspective on the much-less-than-Chernobyl level of risk, from British experts in Japan.]

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