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Table 1

Practical advice for mass media communication.

Challenge Practical advice for mass media communication
Coordination of public information Only limited coordination of public information can be achieved in the early stages of a nuclear accident: be prepared.
Information source dispersion needs to be taken into consideration in nuclear emergency planning at all levels.
Communicators have to respond to requests for information not only related to emergency but simultaneously also other non-emergency topics (such as energy shortage and supply, nuclear technologies, nuclear waste).
Balanced and socio-technical communication Personalized information will have a greater chance of being published in the media than objective, technical information.
Present complete information: media need two sided information (risks-benefits, pro-contra…)
Media attention The newsworthiness of public information (publish-ability) will change through time.
The nuclear −emergency information is the most newsworthy for the media at the beginning of the accident. At a later stage, media re-orientate the attention to other topics.
Recovery and evaluation is more newsworthy in countries without nuclear energy installations than in countries with NPP.
Communicate about water consumption issues, followed by farming products already during an early event although not contaminated. Food predicts and food chain are of great media interest..
Public communication is one of the most followed aspects of a nuclear emergency management.
Evacuation has to be communicated intensively not only to evacuees but also to a global public worldwide. Media are interested in evacuation since it can be presented as an event.
Long-duration sheltering of the population, measurement of people's contamination, especially of iodine in thyroid of children, and the use of iodine tablets as a prophylactic measure, are also topics in a media interest.
Communicating radioactivity Use comparisons with different exposures to radiation and not only the measurement units itself.
Where possible, put units into context with legal limits, these provide journalists with a benchmark to frame their story with.
Be consistent with units (e.g., mSv or roentgen) and understand that numeracy related to risk and safety is meaningful only to a limited number of journalists and people.
Be very clear about the reference points used for comparison of the doses and exposure, one can't expect journalists to know which limits doses were compared to.
Do not communicate exposure rates only; include an explanation of the possible health risks associates with exposures.
Develop and make available visual material in advance; this should cover an explanation of radiation doses and effects, and in perspective of other exposures and risks.
When appropriate, compare radiological risks of of the present accident with radiological risks of previous nuclear accidents. Take specifics of the country where you communicate in to account.
Communicating country specifics Each country has its own communication and interest specifics during an emergency. Communicators have to be aware of them.
Communicate contextual information such as evacuation plans, stress tests results, similar NPP, basic knowledge (e.g., difference between contamination and irradiation) not only radiological risks.
Know your public: attitudes, risk perceptions, historical memory and address these characteristics in your communication.

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