The Fukushima nuclear disaster and its effects on media framing of fission and fusion energy technologies


This paper presents results of a comparison of media coverage of fusion and fission energy technologies in three countries (Germany, Spain and Portugal) and in the English language international print media addressing transnational elite, from 2008 to 2012. The analysis showed that the accident in Fukushima in March 2010 did not have significant impact on media framing of nuclear fusion in the major part of print media under investigation. In fact, fusion is clearly dissociated from traditional nuclear (fission) energy and from nuclear accidents. It tends to be portrayed as a safe, clean and unlimited source of energy, although less credited when confronted with research
costs, technological feasibility and the possibility to be achieved in a reasonable period of time. On the contrary, fission is portrayed as a hazardous source of energy, expensive when compared to research costs of renewables, hardly a long-term energy option, susceptible to contribute to the proliferation of nuclear weapons or rogue military use. Fukushima accident was consistently discussed in the context of safety problems of nuclear power plants and in many cases appeared not as an isolated event but rather as a reminder of previous nuclear disasters such as Three Miles Island and Chernobyl.

Publication associated with Project Nuclear fusion in Portuguese media speech