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Keywords:

  • Risk communication;
  • Nuclear emergency management;
  • Mass media;
  • Crisis communication;
  • Postcrisis communication;
  • Stakeholder involvement

Abstract

Past nuclear accidents highlight communication as one of the most important challenges in emergency management. In the early phase, communication increases awareness and understanding of protective actions and improves the population response. In the medium and long term, risk communication can facilitate the remediation process and the return to normal life. Mass media play a central role in risk communication. The recent nuclear accident in Japan, as expected, induced massive media coverage. Media were employed to communicate with the public during the contamination phase, and they will play the same important role in the clean-up and recovery phases. However, media also have to fulfill the economic aspects of publishing or broadcasting, with the “bad news is good news” slogan that is a well-known phenomenon in journalism. This article addresses the main communication challenges and suggests possible risk communication approaches to adopt in the case of a nuclear accident. Integr Environ Assess Manag 2011;7:388–392. © 2011 SETAC