Carnegie Mellon University
March 17, 2011

Media Advisory: CMU’s Baruch Fischhoff Warned of Nuclear Energy Industry’s Communication Problem in 2009

Contact: Shilo Raube / 412-268-6094 /
Chriss Swaney / 412-268-5776 /

baruch fischoffThe Story: The earthquake and tsunami in Japan have forced an international spotlight on nuclear energy and its risks to society. Conflicting reports and leadership responses about what exactly is going on with Japan’s nuclear reactors and the threats the leaks pose to the population have cast a cloud of uncertainty surrounding the situation. In February 2009, Carnegie Mellon University’s Baruch Fischhoff anticipated the need for the nuclear energy industry to be prepared for a catastrophe and wrote an opinion piece for the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists outlining the industry’s communication problem and how to solve it.

Fischhoff, the Howard Heinz University Professor of Social and Decision Sciences and Engineering and Public Policy and a world-renowned risk communication expert, argued that if the nuclear energy industry is to be seen as a responsible partner with the public, it must change the way it communicates. He provided eight principles that the industry should follow to gain the public’s acceptance and trust and avoid what is currently happening in Japan, including requiring senior management to commit to treating communication as a strategic activity; to assume stewardship over the life cycle of its technology; to press for industry-wide discipline; to separate public affairs communications from public health communications; and to staff its public health communications adequately.

Availability: Professor Fischhoff is available for phone and on-camera interviews to share more on these topics.

CMU TV Studio: We can connect Professor Fischhoff to your outlet through Carnegie Mellon’s state-of-the-art TV studio. Working with Pittsburgh International Telecommunications (PIT), we offer domestic and international connectivity via satellite and fiber. PIT owns and operates one of the largest satellite facilities in the world. Please contact us for more information and to make arrangements. ###