by Cheryl Rofer
One of the good things about blogging is finding the one idea that pulls together some things I haven't been able to understand. Jay Rosen provides one such idea today.
I have been bothered by the state of dialog on nuclear issues in northern New Mexico. On the one hand, we have Los Alamos and Sandia National Laboratories, whose primary missions are to design and support nuclear weapons. On the other hand, we have a rag-tag band of antinuclear activists. My circle of friends and acquaintances include many highly-educated professional people who have questions and concerns about all things nuclear. They hardly ever find the information from either of these sources useful.
The discussion long ago became predictable. The national laboratories are close-lipped and avoid comment or tell us that everything is just fine. The antinukes want the laboratories closed down and all nuclear weapons eliminated - now!
The media in Northern New Mexico, with the reflexive he said, she said approach that Rosen describes, bear a large responsibility for the situation. When a nuclear issue surfaces, they go to the usual suspects, who provide the usual statements. You might even think that the reporters have programmed macros so that they can do this with a couple of keystrokes.
For a while, the LANL blog provided an alternative of sorts, but it long ago collapsed into a massive whine, a third predictable reaction. Practically all its commenters remain anonymous, so there is no way for a reporter to question them.
Nuclear matters frequently lend themselves to factual analysis; much material can be found on the Web, and there are experts at the universities, who are occasionally consulted.
But it's much easier to speed-dial the usual suspects. Too bad for the readers who wanted something more.