Written by Michael Torreano (California Maritime Academy)
Edited by Aimee Casey (Diablo Valley College)
Faculty Advisor: Nolan Higdon (California State University, East Bay)
In August 2016, during the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, the corporate media covered “U.S. Swimmer Ryan Lochte Robbed at Gunpoint in Brazil” while the independent media covered “No End in Sight for Fukushima Disaster.” The Ryan Lochte story is not newsworthy because of the little effect it had on the rest of the world. However, the Fukushima story is newsworthy because of the detrimental effect to the environment as well as human populations resulting from nuclear pollution.
In August 2016, the corporate media covered “U.S. Swimmer Ryan Lochte Robbed at Gunpoint in Brazil.” Outlets relentlessly perpetuated Ryan Lochte’s claims that he and his fellow swimmers were robbed at gunpoint. Skepticism arose after Lochte’s vague recount of the experience and was quickly disproven by official police statements as well as security cameras at the scene of the “crime.” The Washington Post reported “a gun was pulled on the foursome by a security guard early Sunday at a Rio de Janeiro gas station, where the swimmers apparently damaged property at the end of a late-night excursion.” The obfuscated incident and exposed scandal dominated corporate media coverage.
The corporate media dedicated a massive amount of news coverage to the story on Lochte’s robbery scandal. On August 22, 2016, CNN, CBS Sports, Bloomberg, Variety, and The Washington Times reported similar scandal stories. NBC News wrote “U.S. Olympic swimmers Ryan Lochte, Gunnar Bentz, Jack Conger and Jimmy Feigen were robbed at gunpoint while in Rio de Janeiro overnight Saturday.”
In August 2016, while the corporate media covered “U.S. Swimmer Ryan Lochte Robbed at Gunpoint in Brazil”, the independent media covered “No End in Sight for Fukushima Disaster.” On October 4, 2016, Project Censored contributors Harrison Hartman and Peter Phillips published details regarding the Fukushima power plant. Hartman and Phillips focused on the disaster’s effects on the population and wildlife surrounding the plant as well as the Pacific Ocean. The article stated “uncontrolled fission continues to generate heat and require cooling.” In addition, “Prime Minister Shinzō Abe’s stated goal of lifting evacuation orders and forcing displaced Fukushima refugees to return home by March 2017.” Abe and the government are trying to force residents back to their homes even though the radiation levels remain over double the allowed amount. The “public remarks of Prime Minister Shinzō Abe “says ‘everything is under control’’ are of little consolation to the population and the environment.
The topic of nuclear disaster is important because of the drastic effects placed on populations and the environment especially when “officials in charge of the plant continue to release large quantities of radioactive waste water into the Pacific Ocean.” Helen Caldicott, an antinuclear advocate, stated “There is no way to prevent radioactive water [from] reaching the western shores of the North American continent and then circulating around the rest of the Pacific Ocean … At the moment, it seems like this is going to occur for the rest of time.” She explained that, with time, the radiation will affect the entire ocean ecosystem from small crustaceans to the largest of marine life. In addition to affecting oceanic creatures, the Japanese population has experienced reproductive issues since the disaster. Reported by Natural News, “local residents are reporting a marked increase in serious birth defects” and “a large number of stillbirths.”
Junk food news stories such as the Lochte robbery scandal distract from newsworthy stories such the global effects of the Fukushima nuclear pollution. Lochte’s scandal fails to affect individual’s lives yet the Fukushima nuclear pollution plagues Japan’s citizens and wildlife with the capacity to negatively affect the world via the Pacific Ocean.
Michael Torreano is a 19 year old from Silicon Valley attending California State University Maritime Academy.
Nolan Higdon is a professor of Critical Media Literacy Education and Latin American and US History in the San Francisco Bay Area. His academic work focuses on nationalism, propaganda, and critical media literacy education. He sits on the boards of the Media Freedom Foundation, Sacred Heart University’s Media Literacy and Digital Culture Graduate Program, and the Northwest Alliance For Alternative Media And Education. He co-founded the Global Critical Media Literacy Project where he served two years as coordinator. He has contributed chapters to Censored 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, & 2017 as well as Stephen Lendman’s Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks World War III (2014). He has published articles on media and propaganda including “Disinfo Wars: Alex Jones War on Your Mind (2013),” “Millennial Media Revolution (2014),” and “Justice For Sale (2015).” He has been a guest on national radio and television programs and a frequent guest host for The Project Censored Radio Show.