Zürich, 19.2.2010: The Doomsday Clock, a symbol of how close we are to nuclear destruction maintained by Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, was set back one minute to show that the world is a step further away from destruction. A Media Tenor study shows that the current media agenda only partially supports the feeling that we are all a little bit safer. The key finding in the study is that the international media does feel more positive on nuclear issues – but that foreign policy on Iran and North Korea have framed the issue as a source of international conflict.
Improvement in Media Ratings on Nuclear Issues
In a mid-term study of 24 international TV news programs, Media Tenor‘s study shows that the ratings of protagonists on nuclear issues has improved over the past four years from a very worrying -30% to a more friendly -8%. “The rollback of the Doomsday clock and the rise in media perception on nuclear issues go hand in hand in” says Media Tenor´s South African research head Chris von Copenhagen. “With a rise in the tone of media reporting perception people may feel inclined to view Nuclear energy in a more positive way - but that is not the full agenda”.
Dominance of Iran on nuclear agenda
The downside to the current media agenda is that the complete dominance of Iran and North Korea on the nuclear agenda from 2006 in which they occupied between 50-80% of the international nuclear agenda, shows that the debate is very conflict driven. The study shows that the focus for atomic issues has not been on the traditional nuclear powers, but on the role of the possession of nuclear weapons by Iran and North Korea. The framing of nuclear issue may have improved, but it is still based around a storyline of hostile states secretly building bombs - not energy requirements.
The media agenda is set to become more complicated in 2010 in the wake of the US government´s recently announced intentions to build new atomic power stations. As von Copenhagen says, “From the media perspective, the time is certainly right for a new energy debate domestically because of the recent attention on climate change and fossil fuels – but the Iran sanctions issues means the US needs to steer a careful course – until now the nuclear agenda has been framed within the weapons argument – not the environmental. ”
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