The combination earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster that hit Japan earlier this year is surely one of the biggest stories of 2011. That’s especially true in the tech world, with the combined disasters having a massive impact on both the technology industry and the energy debate. The reporting surrounding the events cemented the new role of citizen journalists and social media in shaping news coverage that’s shifted reporting away from scheduled reports to constantly flowing and evolving news feeds.
One report, however, stuck out in the harried days after the initial quake. “NOVA: Japan’s Killer Quake,” produced by PBS affiliated WGBH in Boston, is a gripping hour-long account of the issues beyond just the immediate effects of the disaster. Its reporting has now been named a winner of the Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia University Awards for excellence in broadcast journalism.
In its announcement of WGBH’s Silver Baton, the committee wrote:
NOVA quickly brought together an extraordinary amount of information, footage and insight to tell the bigger story behind the most violent earthquake ever recorded in Japan. Critical questions were answered; what caused the earthquake and how this quake fits into the history, science, and understanding of the phenomenon. Within days of the quake, an international NOVA team was shooting in Japan filming from the air to explain what occurred on the ground. The team tackled the devastating human tragedy with authoritative on-site reporting while staying true to its science-based mission.
The report is worth watching (or rewatching) even now, and not just for the insight it offers into the struggles Japan still faces. It’s also a valuable chance to celebrate excellent journalism that combines strong reporting with an in-depth scientific background.
By Derek Mead