Will Radioactive Fear-Fomenting Continue This Week on CNN?

It’s pouring in Los Angeles right now and if you kept an eye on the news last week you’d be excused for worrying that exposure to said rain might give you cancer. “Miniscule” amounts of radiation hit the West Coast this weekend as a result of the multiple nuclear reactor mishaps in Fukushima Prefecture triggered by the 9.0 earthquake in Japan. More accurately, as radioactive vapor from the busted nuclear energy plants collided with the jet stream, it travelled across the pacific as it dissipated amid other clouds. But there is always a “miniscule” amount of radioactive element in the air we breathe here in Southern California and pretty much every other major city. It’s not just FOXNews and CNN, it’s the local TV and radio news too. Anchors and reporters are consistently talking over the analysts they are interviewing so that “nothing to worry about” cannot be heard so much as the key fear-triggering phrases “nuclear,” “radioactive,” “headed this way” are repeated before and after every break. Will the fear-fomenting carry on for another week?

I originally filed the following post at LAist. Click here to see all my recent posts at LAist.com.

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CNN proves once again that the only imminent radioactive threat stems from staring at Wolf Blitzer in the Radiation Situation Room all afternoon.

After spending much of the week threatening the West Coast with radioactive thunderstorms should anyone dare turn the dial, CNN decided to recreate the geography of Caifornia, placing San Francisco a hundred miles or so from the Mexican border and throwing Los Angeles to the sharks, at the tip of a peninsula in Northern California that appears to be all but detached from the rest of the continent.

OK. So it was early in the morning and someone decided it would be fun to flip SF and L.A. on the map. And to misspell San Onofre.

We’re convinced this is a direct side effect of redundant fear fomenting under the guise of expert analysis. Turn on any 24-hour news network, or even local AM radio, and you’ll hear lots of mumbling broken up by words like “radiation,” “nuclear disaster,” and “headed to California.” These catchphrases subliminally enslave listeners to the nearest breaking news device, be it a transistor radio or the plasma section at Best Buy.

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New Kickstarter Call-Out: State of the Re:Union

state of the re:union kickstarter

UPDATE: Just got an email that my funds went through! After a whole month SOTRU hit its Kickstarter fundraising goal with just two minutes to spare! Congrats!

Having just heard that one of my recent Kickstarter investments, CicLAvia, has been funded, a new project has conveniently crossed my path and if you’re into it too, you’ve got a few days left to chip in a few bucks.

State of the Re:Union (SOTRU) is a public media show that seeks to unify its audience by telling the stories of real people through an innovative exploration of a city, detailing how things come together and what pulls them apart. Each radio episode, host Al Letson travels to a different American city or town and explores how community is created. Who are the people who help bring it together? What are the issues they face? How does the culture of an area shape the people and vice versa? Through a unique mix of storytelling, cultural excavation, music and multimedia, SOTRU brings community to life. — Read more | website | Facebook | Twitter.

Kickstarter is a groundbreaking concept in microdonations and in awesome website and community. You pledge to donate the amount you choose — with great incentive rewards for various dollar amounts — and the money is taken via your Amazon.com account only if the fundraising goal is met.

State of the Re:Union is closing in on 50% funded with only 4 days remaining (after a month on the site) so let’s give it a boost by August 21st!

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R.I.P. Studs Terkel

studs terkelOne of the greatest radio voices of all time, pioneering storyteller Louis “Studs” Terkel died today. He was 96. What he gave to journalism and radio storytelling has everything to do with my addiction to podcasts, public radio and journalism of the people for the people and to the people.

It goes without saying that Terkel’s unique traveling interview style, best illustrated on 1963’s “This Train” is the model for great audio and visual storytelling of today. While riding the train from Chicago to the civil rights march in Washington D.C., Terkel gathered the voices of anger, joy and ultimately optimism from people of all ages making that historic trip. Just listen to part one of “This Train” below and, suddenly, you won’t think This American Life is the most revolutionary program to hit radio.

Studs was a Chicago guy but his stories had a purely American bent, touching on difficult matters of importance and celebrating life coast to coast. I’m sorry that he will not be around to see Barack Obama become president, although he discussed as much with a Huffington Post scribe in the days before his passing. I’m also sad that the Cubs couldn’t pull it out this year for Terkel and other Cubs fans who’ve waited the better part of 100 years to see a championship.

Studs Terkel was an activist until his dying days, playing a prominent role challenging AT&T’s corroboration in releasing records to the National Security Agency in 2006.

I hope to locate the full audio of this amazing piece to post later. For now, here’s the first 50 minutes of “This Train.”

Video and more below:

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