Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Some Questions About AP's Pulitzer Nominee

Yesterday the winners of the 2012 Pulitzer Prizes in journalism and the arts were announced. Though it failed to win a Pulitzer, a series by the Associated Press (AP) on safety at American nuclear plants was nominated in the national reporting category. We were a little taken aback by the news considering some of the criticism that was directed at the series by the Columbia Journalism Review earlier this year:

[T]he AP series, while it tackles a critically important public policy issue, suffers from lapses in organization, narrative exposition, and basic material selection, what to leave in and what to leave out. Too much is left to rest on inconclusive he-said-she-said exchanges that end up more confusing than illuminating for readers.
CJR's Irene M. Wielawski also concluded: "Reading it was, for me, a hugely frustrating experience." One wonders whether the Pulitzer committee might have come to the same conclusion.

POSTSCRIPT: Click here for the formal response to the AP series from NEI's media team. Click here for additional material we published on NEI Nuclear Notes, including links to other third party sources that found the AP's work less than convincing. NEI's Chief Nuclear Officer, Tony Pietrangelo, outlined his objections to the skewed portrayal of plant safety in a video report that can be found here.

UPDATE: Craig Nesbit, Vice President of Communications with Exelon Generation passed along this note:
Nice blog post on the AP. You may not be aware that any news piece can be nominated. Pulitzer nominations are submitted by the organization that owns the publication, not by the Pulitzer panel or some other third party. What's meaningful in the Pulitzer competition is being named a finalist (there are three for each category) and, of course, winning. It is, indeed, unfortunate that AP chose to nominate one of the most factually flawed, confusing and thinly evidenced pieces it has ever run, and I say that as a former chairman of Virginia Associated Press Newspapers and current nuclear industry spokesman.
Indeed, Craig is correct in that the piece in question was named a finalist. Thanks for the clarification.

3 comments:

skeptic said...

Has AP provided any response on releasing the claimed Gundersen lab reports on soil radioactivity in Tokyo? NEI, please follow up and confirm one way or another whether AP is willing to make any of the technical data available for independent scientific review. It's important to confirm whether or not they are willing to provide any quantitative information, or whether they believe that they are able to provide a credible interpretation of the laboratory reports they claim that Gundersen provided to them.

Atomikrabbit said...

After Jeff Donn (@jadonn7) at AP sent out the following tweet:

My "Aging Nukes" series is national reporting Pulitzer finalist for the AP. http://littleurl.info/666~

I couldn’t restrain myself from offering condolences:

@jadonn7 Good thing Columbia Journalism Review “blew the whistle” on your “spewing” of antinuclear misinformation –otherwise might have won.

Atomikrabbit said...

This is peripherally related to the AP article but I want to get it out there anyway because it is a part of why nuclear energy is losing the hearts and minds of a large number of Americans. The following article appeared back on April 12, has been viewed hundreds of times, and has not been challenged by anyone, least of all the NEI: http://danapointtimes.com/bookmark/18218647

The industry needs to develop (and pay for their efforts) a cadre of well-informed Truth Squaders who will constantly scour the internet and social media to respond to anti-nuclear misinformation. A hit and miss effort by a few talented and dedicated pro-nuclear amateurs is not going to get it done.

For an industry that remains one headline away from losing the use of hundreds of billions of dollars in assets, we are still remarkably lax in policing the media for lies, slanders, and scurrilous science.