The Media

Local journalists, of course, followed events at the Three Mile Island plant from Wednesday on, with an increasing sense of urgency as the reactor situation failed to be resolved. Reporters for various media (newspaper, television, radio) converged on Harrisburg and Middletown by the weekend, creating the need for periodic press conferences, which were scheduled and effective after the arrival of Harold Denton, a reactor specialist from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Most of those reporting on the accident had to, first, learn for themselves the basics of nuclear energy production and, second, educate the public on that, radiation and the potential outcomes of the emergency. Within hours, both journalists and local residents had learned a whole new vocabulary and conversed knowingly about core over-heating, melt-downs, and rems.

Those who reflected on the media’s roll in the emergency afterward suggested that local media did a fine job without becoming alarmist. Central Pennsylvanians felt that national and international media organizations, however, sensationalized the accident. Governor Thornburgh's Twentieth Anniversary Address, given at Dickinson College, provides at least one view of the role the media played in the emergency. Other viewpoints can be heard and read in the interviews available in the Resource Center.