Title: Media reporting and changes in public opinion after Fukushima nuclear accident: Belgium as case study

Authors: Tanja Perko; Catrinel Turcanu; Dries Geenen

Addresses: Belgian Nuclear Research Centre, SCK•CEN, Boeretang 200, Mol, Belgium; Faculty of Political and Social Sciences, University of Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium ' Belgian Nuclear Research Centre, SCK•CEN, Boeretang 200, Mol, Belgium ' Faculty of Political and Social Sciences, University of Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium

Abstract: This study examines the Belgian press coverage related to the Fukushima nuclear accident and investigates the changes in the public opinion related to nuclear energy. Two research methodologies were applied. The first method conducted was a content analysis of two quality newspapers in Belgium, covering the first two months after the accident. The second method was a public opinion survey, based on more than 1000 personal interviews conducted in Belgium in the third month after the accident. The results show that the accident induced enormous media coverage in the first weeks after the accident with focus on many different topics; yet, attention decreased with time and became limited to the 'future of nuclear energy' and 'safety and crisis management aspects'. The Chernobyl nuclear accident has been recognised as part of the collective memory, influencing media reporting and public opinion. As expected, the Fukushima nuclear accident has also induced some changes in the public opinion about nuclear energy.

Keywords: Fukushima nuclear accident; media reporting; public opinion; content analysis; Chernobyl nuclear accident; nuclear governance; nuclear accidents; press coverage; nuclear energy; nuclear power; nuclear safety; crisis management; emergency management.

DOI: 10.1504/IJNGEE.2012.053559

International Journal of Nuclear Governance, Economy and Ecology, 2012 Vol.3 No.4, pp.291 - 307

Received: 23 Mar 2012
Accepted: 05 Apr 2012

Published online: 01 May 2013 *

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