It was a week ago today that the New York Times ran this lede:
Japan faced the likelihood of a catastrophic nuclear accident Tuesday morning, as an explosion at the most crippled of three reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station damaged its crucial steel containment structure, emergency workers were withdrawn from the plant, and much larger emissions of radioactive materials appeared imminent, according to official statements and industry executives informed about the developments.
The headline, which led NYTimes.com that night: “Japan Faces Potential Nuclear Disaster as Radiation Levels Rise.”
We can all be grateful that the worst hasn’t happened. It appears that the nuclear situation in Japan, despite continued setbacks, may slowly be coming under control. So my question this morning is whether the Times grossly overstated what was happening on that scary night.
A news organization should not lightly assert “the likelihood of a catastrophic nuclear accident.”