The first nuclear weapon was detonated nearly 70 years ago and the first domestic use of electricity from a nuclear reactor commenced nearly 60 years ago. The use of nuclear technologies is ubiquitous today in medicine, industry and science.
Insufficient knowledge hinders most journalists from adequately covering issues dealing with nuclear weapons and nuclear power. Failure of the press to challenge false claims prior to the Iraq war in 2003 has been well documented. Few journalists understood how a nuclear reactor worked when the Fukushima accident occurred in Japan in 2011.
Journalists working in print and electronic media, broadcasting via radio, TV and the Internet, are the main conduits of information to the public.
Atomic Reporters acts as an information broker improving journalistic understanding and coverage of nuclear issues. Policymakers themselves need to be better-informed as does the general public. The future of nuclear weapons, the safety of nuclear power, nuclear security, and concern about the soaring use of ionising radiation in medicine, for example, should be the focus of informed public debate. Better reporting would contribute to a more engaged public and more responsive policy.
The issue is particularly acute for journalists in countries building, or considering the introduction of nuclear power for the first time. Public oversight is acknowledged as an indispensable element in effective nuclear safety. An informed and independent media is vital. In Middle East countries, where a proposal to create a zone free of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction is under consideration, there is a need for greater understanding of the role of journalists in achieving that aim.
Atomic Reporters is organizing workshops and seminars and will provide online training opportunities for journalists. Its goal is to become a reliable and fact based resource for reporters, particularly when there are major events in the nuclear world that require better public understanding.