[ RadSafe ] RE: Canada proposes refinery, dump

Bob Cherry bobcherry at satx.rr.com
Fri Jun 6 13:51:53 CDT 2008

Ms. Lam:


A "basic tenet" of my profession (physics) is to take an active role in
society within the framework of that profession where we might help. After
all, those of use with initials after our name got those initials with
society's encouragement and support and we owe something back to society. We
are also members of society. So, I see that part of my professional
responsibility is to address the bias I perceive in your article.


I also know something about the "basic tenets" of your profession.


1.       Having taken a journalism class myself in the Detroit Public School
system, I am aware of this. That is why I indeed verified that "dump"
appeared in the text before I wrote my note to you.

2.       To be specific, here is the line from your article with which I
took issue: "Martz said he is just as concerned about the nuclear waste
storage dump." Since it is an indirect quote, you had the two choices of
using a more accurate description than "dump" or using quotation marks
around "nuclear waste storage dump" to demonstrate that you are using his
words and not yours. "Nuclear waste" generally refers to highly radioactive
waste from nuclear reactors. The waste in this case is low-level radioactive
waste, often from nuclear medicine clinics and hospitals. Your apparent bias
shows by not taking either of the choices available to you.

3.       Having taken a journalism course myself, I am aware of this. I am
also aware that this article should have been objective, which it was for
the most part. Ironically, "nuclear waste storage dump" is the jargon you
wrote that you should not use. It is the jargon of the anti-nuclear
activists. "Underground radioactive waste repository" is not jargon, you
used it earlier in the article, and you could have used it here.

4.       If you prefer to get technical information from those who are not
experts in the field about which you are writing, you are more likely to be
"buffaloed" than you are by me. I can't even buffalo my wife. I was not
trying to fool anybody, especially you. My opinion is that those that use
"nuclear waste storage dump" when "underground radioactive waste
repository," was known and was available for its proper use generally are
either the "buffaloers" or, in your case, the "buffaloed."


As you may have guessed, the use of the word "dump" to describe duly
considered and highly engineered radioactive waste storage facilities
offends me and is a pet peeve. "For the record," I do not work for such a
facility and only know a few people that do. I have no monetary interest in
them, but I do have professional interest. Modern facilities like the one
proposed in Ontario generally are safer than a lot of things we take for
granted and are essential for our society, especially for the medical and
scientific research professions.


I am pleased that I got your attention. Thank you for your response.


Bob (with no initials, as you prefer)




From: Lam, Tina [mailto:tlam at freepress.com] 
Sent: Friday, June 06, 2008 12:59 PM
To: 'Bob Cherry'
Subject: RE: Canada proposes refinery, dump


Mr. Cherry,


I normally don't respond to messages such as yours, but for the record, a
few basic tenets of our profession:


1)     Reporters don't write headlines, ever.  

2)     We don't alter people's words. If you search the text of the story,
the word you object to appears twice, once in a direct quote and again in an
indirect quote. The word I used myself at the top to describe the project
was repository. 

3)     We avoid jargon whenever possible.

4)     We're not buffaloed by people with initials after their names.   


Tina Lam

Detroit Free Press

615 W. Lafayette

Detroit, MI 48226


Ann Arbor office: 734-665-6375

tlam at freepress.com 



From: Bob Cherry [mailto:bobcherry at satx.rr.com] 
Sent: Friday, June 06, 2008 7:36 AM
To: Lam, Tina
Cc: radsafe at radlab.nl
Subject: Canada proposes refinery, dump


Ms. Lam:


Regarding your article with subject title in today's Detroit Free Press,
please look up the definition of "dump" and then verify that it applies to
the "underground radioactive waste repository" that is one of the subjects
of your article. I believe that it does not.


The word "dump" has connotations that anti-nuclear activists seem to have
successfully foisted upon the public and upon journalists who are not
careful with use of their vocabulary.


I am not taking sides on the repository issue, but I am objecting to your
biased, sloppy, and lazy use of the English language in a news article in my
hometown newspaper.


Bob Cherry, PhD, CHP

Former Detroiter (Cass Tech 1964)


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