UT Knoxville to Host National Science Journalists July 16-18

KNOXVILLE — The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, School of Journalism and Electronic Media (JEM) will host a McCormick Tribune Specialized Reporting Institute on the Media and Nuclear Power Issues, July 16-18 at the International House, 1623 Melrose Ave.

Twenty journalists and 20 journalism students specializing in science reporting from Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina and South Carolina, and Tennessee will participate in the institute. The sessions are not open to the public.

The institute will focus on nuclear power, which at present generates about 20 percent of the country’s electricity, but remains one of the most controversial power sources available in the U.S.

“Concerns and myths about nuclear power abound and thus media attention on this issue has never been more important,” said Mark Littmann, UT Knoxville journalism and electronic media professor and Hill Chair of Excellence in Science, Technology and Medical Writing. “Reporting on the issue should give Americans a clear, unadulterated vision of promises, possibilities and developments in the nuclear energy field.”

Co-hosts of the presentation include Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and the UT Nuclear Engineering Department (UTNED). The Tennessee Press Association also is providing assistance for the event.

The three-day institute, sponsored by the Chicago-based McCormick Foundation, will focus on reporting the advantages and disadvantages of different kinds of nuclear reactors, and on nuclear safety and nuclear waste storage issues. For perspective, the workshop also will focus on the coverage of other alternative forms of energy production, including nuclear fusion, solar power, wind power and cleaner coal, and what kind of energy-production mix would best contribute to an environmentally sustainable, energy-independent nation. The workshop will include a tour of ORNL.

Littmann will lead the faculty for the institute. In addition, science journalists and writers who are well respected for their work on nuclear and alternative energy issues will discuss media coverage of the issues. Scheduled speakers include: Matthew Wald, The New York Times; Keith Rogers, Las Vegas Review Journal; Nicole Stricker, Idaho National Laboratory, Janet Raloff, Science News; and science author William Tucker.

Special presentations will be made by Ashok Bhatnagar, senior vice president, Nuclear Generation Development & Construction, TVA; Daniel Ingersoll, associate laboratory director, Energy and Engineering Sciences Directorate, ORNL; H. Lee Dodds, IBM professor and head, UT Nuclear Engineering Department; Scott Peterson, vice president for communications, Nuclear Energy Institute; and Edwin Lyman, Union of Concerned Scientists.

The presentations made by the science journalists, TVA, ORNL and UTNED personnel will be disseminated via DVDs and print publications; the site visits also will be recorded. The DVD presentations will be made available to every newsroom and journalism school in the country. Articles, video and audio podcasts of the event will be made available on a special Web site now under construction.

The McCormick Foundation is a nonprofit organization committed to strengthening society by investing in children, communities and country. Through its five grant-making programs and three world-class museums, the foundation helps build a more active and engaged citizenry. It was established as a charitable trust in 1955, upon the death of Robert R. McCormick, the longtime editor and publisher of the Chicago Tribune. The McCormick Foundation is one of the nation’s largest charities, with $1.2 billion in assets.

The School of Journalism and Electronic Media is one of four schools in the College of Communication and Information. JEM is an accredited program with approximately 900 pre-majors, majors and minors, master’s degree and doctorate students, 18 full-time tenure track faculty and 10 full- and part-time lecturers. The college administers the doctoral program. The school houses student media that include Scoop magazine, WUTK-90.3 The Rock (FM radio station) and Tennessee Journalist (http://www.tnjn.com), a news Web site. Journalism celebrated its 60th anniversary at UT last year. JEM students choose from among six tracks: science/health journalism, news, magazine journalism, sports journalism, visual communication and media management.

C O N T A C T :

Mark Littmann (865-974-8156, littmann@utk.edu)
Peter Gross (865-974-4063, pgross@utk.edu)