Breaking information about what is going on at the two Fukushima nuclear power plants—Daiichi (where most of the trouble is) and Daini—has often conflicted with other reports, points out Cristine Russell in The Atlantic. She's criticizing the round-the-clock cycle of cable news coverage for confusing the public, and adding more fear and stress to an already fear-and-stress-filled situation. A big part of the problem: Knowing which sources to trust. Here's two recommendations from Russell that earn big thumbs up from me:
Some of the most reliable information is coming from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), to which Japanese authorities must report. Reports involving unnamed "officials," which CNN and others used frequently this weekend, should be handled with caution.
I'd add to that a recommendation for World Nuclear News. They are an industry publication&mash;funded by the World Nuclear Association, which is a professional organization that does education within the nuclear industry, and promotes nuclear power to the general public. Given that, I wouldn't rely on them as an only source. But they are doing a really good job of regularly (but not too regularly) updating what is happening at the various reactors and, more importantly, keeping that information in context, so that it's easy to keep track of how many reactors are involved, and what is happening at each.
That's a pretty important feature for anyone trying to follow this story from home. Better yet, when new news comes in, they've been updating directly in the previous story, and making notes at the top of the page about what was updated. It seems like a small thing, but it can help a lot if, like me, you've been feeling a bit like you're drowning in information. Keep in mind, though: They seem to be abandoning article pages at the end of each day, and starting a new page, which then gets all the new updates. So if you're looking at an article from Sunday, you're seeing everything that happened that day, but not what's happened since then.
Maggie Koerth-Baker is the science editor at BoingBoing.net. She writes a monthly column for The New York Times Magazine and is the author of Before the Lights Go Out, a book about electricity, infrastructure, and the future of energy. You can find Maggie on Twitter and Facebook.