This essay paper compares how the Japanese media and that of the US reported the recent earthquake disaster and tsunami in the eastern Japan. The recent earthquake in Japan occurred on March 11, 2011 and was recorded 8.9 - magnitude. With such a high magnitude it attracted the attention of many media reporters both in Japan and in the US for each to give their story on this matter. According to Rebecca L. Ash, 1998, a media journalist, mass media plays an important role in the conveying of information at all stages of a disaster by giving knowledge on awareness, prediction, impact, and aftermath. "The disaster reporting included pre-disaster education to prepare the public, enlightening and warnings them of possible impact. This can be by reports of actual impact and also disaster outcome reports" (Castillo 2011).
The Japanese reporter Natsuko Waki while analyzing the same disaster stated that as the extent of the damage was analyzed and that the estimated cost of repairing the great damages caused by natural disasters like earthquakes and tsunamis was rapidly increasing. He further analyzed that there were high likehood of Japanese disaster impacting world financial markets especially in America. The reason for this was the high cost of the disaster. This forced the Japanese government to repatriate funds for cleanup and reconstruction. The US dollar was already considered weakened against the Japanese yen as dollars were sold and yen purchased so that additional yen were available in Japan (Greene 2011).
Gerald Greene further asserted that Japan was still the second largest holder of US treasury securities and hat for many years it had been a reliable purchaser of US debt while auctioning. It was likely that Japan would have raised some reconstruction funds by selling off American securities and would have perhaps even stop altogether its purchases of US debt the auctions. This majorly could have caused interest rates in the US to greatly increase so as to attract purchases of US debts by certain central banks like the US Treasury Department who could offer higher interest rates. He further alluded that sophisticated investors were aware of the linkage between the costs that arose from the Japanese earthquake and tsunami and also linkage in the stock, market for bonds and foreign exchange. (Greene 2011).
Furthermore, Gerald Greene reported that it was likely that the full extent of the disaster will continue to escalate because of the additional video and TV images being broadcasted through the media. Thus, should a nuclear meltdown occur at any of the reactors in the country, the panic selling that would consequently arise could devastate the financial markets. The impact was likely to be on American and world financial markets. The fear of radioactivity spreading across large parts of the country, Japan and beyond was terrifying, even for sophisticated investors (Greene 2011).
Therefore, based on the report given by the Japanese media we can assert that the earthquake and the tsunami which affected parts of Japan received quick respond from the whole world. Measures were taken to avoid lose of life and the much enlighten nuclear power reaction. The US media on the other hand had the following to report regarding the Japanese earthquake and tsunami. A good example was the CNN's coverage who at that time reported that the huge earthquake had knocked out the power supply to the Fukushima power plant. Also the plant's backup generators which were always powered with diesel were destroyed by the tsunami and this occurred shortly after the massive trembler. This left the facility with only its battery backup which was intended to only last a matter of hours. Hence without the turbine and the generator pulling the heat away from the nuclear core, the fuel was always at risk of going to meltdown (Carter 2011).
Mia Carter further reported that an explosion had caused a collapse of the outer walls that surrounded the reactor. During that time, the Japanese authorities had established a 12-mile exclusion zone surrounding the nuclear power plant. Thousands of people were being evacuated from the exclusion zone. In an attempt to suppress the panic that had arisen, Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan during that time stated that the massive evacuation was a good idea and that it was intended to be a precautionary measure. In a last minute effort to cool the reactors that had boiled at the Fukushima nuclear plant, engineers in the company were reported to have used sea water as a coolant by pumping the water into the nuclear reactor. (Carter 2011).
Mia Carter while illustrating the desperate nature of the situation, quoted that one nuclear power expert said that he at that time didn't know of any emergency management plan that dealt with using sea water as a coolant to the reactor. It was noticed and it had been said that the reactors would remain offline due to the damage they sustained during the attempt to prevent the nuclear meltdown.
Mia Carter further stated that at that time, Japan had never declared a nuclear emergency. They then at that time had declared five nuclear emergencies for each of their five nuclear reactors. The most serious one was the one that was at reactor number one at the Daiichi facility. This would have gone in history as the three greatest nuclear incidents if it had managed to be stopped.
Mia Carter in 2011 further asserted that there had been much speculation about a meltdown inside the Fukushima nuclear power plant. He argued that the horrifying earthquake and accompanying tsunami that devastated Japan was the most filmed live disaster event. The graphic images shown in the TV channels, YouTube, Face book and other media channels broadcasted the events immediately after the disaster stroked the Northeast Japanese shoreline. He further stated that following the natural disaster, Japan declared a nuclear power emergency to avoid any reaction occurrence. Thus the engineers flooded the reactor with sea water to avoid the catastrophe. This situation left many people wondering how energy was generated at nuclear power plants and how malfunctions and natural disasters that rarely occur could lead to a nuclear meltdown.
Mia Carter asserted that the Japanese were among of the most technologically advanced people in the world. Thus it was not a surprise that even in the remote areas there were cell phone and video cameras ready to film the destruction as they occurred. For example during the explosions that occurred at the Fukushima nuclear power plant facilities, videos were recorded and it did not take time before been these videos were distributed to news channels such as CNN and BBC. He also observed that the Japanese media especially the TV were showing disturbing image of how destructive the earthquake and tsunami were for the Japanese. The well documented events of the earthquake and the tsunami showed the possibility of a meltdown of nuclear reactors. This seemed to be the clips of imaginative disaster movie rather than the actual events. Sadly, the video and live TV images portrayed a landscape of almost total devastation that was absolutely contrary to what human beings expected to see even in disastrous situations.
Mia Carter expounded that the disaster caused a major drop on the Japanese economy. Thus, the most visible immediate loss was of the industrial production that arose due to shortages of electricity. There were four reactors at the Fukushima electric power plant that were taken off-line. The two reactors indicated a possibility of a meltdown that could occur due to release of radioactive materials. If this occurred, the electrical production would be greatly reduced. This would negatively impact industrial production across Japan (Carter 2011)
The Los Angeles Times in 2011 while reporting the same disaster mentioned that efforts to cool the nuclear reactor were under way and the world continued to witness a crisis at that time the Japanese Prime Minister likened to the second World War in terms of its severity during a press conference in that year. The Tokyo Electric Power said that the initial report of levels 10m times high was falsely reported. Some Officials at Japan's stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant t that time had retracted their announcement on the on goings of the project.
ABC news in 2011 (which was also a US media) had something to say regarding the Japanese disaster. There were mistakes in the handling of reactors and this promoted a go ahead to evacuate the workers. A spokesman said that the water was contaminated but not to that degree and another reading was being taken. The workers had constantly struggled to pump radioactive water out of the plant. Other reports stated that the workers who were doing the measurements had fled the scene even before taking a second reading.
The Guardian in 2011 alleged that the worker's discovery had prompted another evacuation at the site and this halted the work to pump and store radioactive water that had built up in the turbine buildings of three reactors in the plant.
Gerald Baron, a renowned US reporter said that the subsequent retractions that arose emphasizes the pressures that the Japanese officials and faced in reporting accurate information to the public. Government authorities and the company were criticized for not providing the information in due time to the public. In a rush to provide timely information, officials do not take the time needed to verify information and ensure that the testing was done properly. Therefore, the media's key role is to provide useful and acute information while reporting disaster to the public in a good time (Baron 2011).
Therefore, the dilemma in reporting events arises during the determining of the magnitude of the information. This was evident in the case of Japan's miscalculation of radioactivity which could have caused great panic. The nuclear firm later deserved credit since the mistake was at that time corrected within hours of release of the information. However, the residual of misinformation was always distrusted and there was the possibility that subsequent information was flawed as well. It is vital that when disaster arises, reporting entities and agencies should be careful while reporting information and it should be delivered accurately and in time so as to secure their credibility in the eyes of the public and the also the media (Castillo 2011).
Therefore, we can conclude that both the Japanese media and the US media have shown that there exists a relationship between Medias. They also show how media reports disasters and this has consequent effects on the public's attitudes, perceptions and behaviors throughout the conveying of events. For instance, they portray important news and in case of an event like a disaster, they can create panic. They also prove that inefficient reporting of an event could create a false alarm to the general public.