Promote the need for sincere information for a democracy based on trust

Chernobyl and fake news

Anne-Claude Ambroise-Rendu

The media coverage of the catastrophe that took place on April 28, 1986 in the nuclear power station of Chernobyl in the Ukraine combined all the modalities of fake news. Subjected to an imperative leaving little or no space for indecision or the undecidable, the media covered the accident and its consequences to the best of its ability. Indeed, the myth of the toxic cloud, said to have spared all of France—a specimen of the so-called “canard” (fake news), which the newspapers of the nineteenth century criticized—was quickly challenged. It consequently dominated the debates and became a subject in itself. In what way was fake news spread? Factuality is not the same as truth and when the former is unachievable, the latter is generally of a more controversial nature. This was the case for the issue of damage to human health caused by the passing of the famous toxic cloud, whose passing remains a controversial subject to this day. This article takes another look at the regime of falseness that constituted the framework for this long-enduring saga: falseness due to lack of information, falseness because of the withholding of information, falseness resulting from various types of state-led manipulation, and finally falseness defined by an epistemic failure, considering the difficulty journalists encountered when covering a subject that was both technical and “explosive.”

Topic :  Disinformation  
Format :    
Edition :  Le Temps des Médias  
Country :  France 
Language  :  French 
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