Rory O’Connor to talk about nuke book tonight

Friend of Media Nation Rory O’Connor will appear on “Greater Boston” this evening to talk with Emily Rooney about the 30th-anniversary edition of his book “Nukespeak: The Selling of Nuclear Technology from the Manhattan Project to Fukushima.”

As you can tell from the title, the book has been revised and updated. Co-written by O’Connor, Stephen Hilgartner and Richard C. Bell, it’s being published as an e-book by Sierra Club Books. You can find out more here.

The program begins at 7 p.m. on WGBH-TV (Channel 2).

Did the Times overstate Japan’s nuke crisis?

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at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station damaged its crucial steel containment structure, emergency workers were withdrawn from the plant, and much larger emissions of radioactive materials appeared imminent, according to official statements and industry executives informed about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.”

A very scary night

NYTimes.com’s lead headline right now is about as horrifying as it gets: “Japan Faces Potential Nuclear Disaster as Radiation Levels Rise.” The 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at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station damaged its crucial steel containment structure, emergency workers were withdrawn from the plant, and much larger emissions of radioactive materials appeared immiment, according to official statements and industry executives informed about the developments.

Note the wording: the “likelihood of a catastrophic nuclear accident.”

I’ve been watching NHK’s English-language service at CNN.com. It is not reassuring, despite the cool élan of the on-air folks.