Patrick Moore"Much of the environmental movement, including Greenpeace, has lost its way when it comes to nuclear power, caught up in politically correct ideology and stooping to sensationalism to garner support," declared a recent media alert announcing the visit of one-time Greenpeace activist Patrick Moore to Toronto. The alert continued, "In Ontario, CANDU nuclear energy is the greatest single contributor to carbon reduction relative to all other energy producing technologies."
The alert, which was distributed by Laurie Weir and Josh Turner from the Canadian PR company Trillium Corporate Communications, prominently featured Moore's claim that was a "founding member" of Greenpeace. It didn't mention who was sponsoring his tour or that Moore works as a consultant to the Nuclear Energy Institute in the U.S. The day following the Toronto event, Moore promoted nuclear power at an event hosted by the Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce in the province of Saskatchewan.
The debate over nuclear power and uranium mining involves major questions of potentially massive economic costs to consumers and taxpayers, the safety of the population, the potential for weapons proliferation, the creation of a long-term radioactive legacy and significant impacts on indigenous communities. With such potentially large downsides, probing journalism is essential to ensure that citizens can make informed choices rather than be served a diet of nuclear industry spin dressed up as news.
Of course, any journalist with internet access would be easily able to check out a little on Moore's background, his history of nuclear advocacy and ask some questions about who exactly he was working for. After all, the Canadian Association of Journalists statement of principles sets out that journalists "will report all relevant facts in coverage of controversies or disputes." But how often does this happen?