March 15, 2011 - Updated on January 20, 2016

Recommendations to journalists covering the disaster

Reporters Without Borders offers its full support for the Japanese and international media as Japan struggles to deal with the effects of the 8.9 magnitude earthquake of 11 March, the biggest in the country’s history, and the risks of radioactive leaks after the explosions at the Fukushima nuclear power plant, 150 km north of Tokyo. The Handbook for Journalists which Reporters Without Borders and UNESCO published jointly in French and English, with help from the French defence ministry’s Information and Communication Office, raises several points about the role of journalists in a major humanitarian disaster. Journalists help to mobilize public opinion and international generosity, assist with the location of survivors and help evaluate the population’s most urgent needs. Reporters Without Borders calls on the Japanese authorities to do everything possible to provide the public with detailed information about the consequences of the disaster, especially the effects of the radiation leakage on the population’s health. The organization also encourages foreign journalists to contact their own country’s foreign ministry before travelling to the disaster areas in order get information about the risks and how to reduce them. Finally, Reporters Without Borders urges reporters to check websites with information about minimizing the risks of radiation exposures such as this BBC site, this French Red Cross site and this Google crisis response site.