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Redacted in Nebraska: the noises of conspiracy around nuclear power problems


This paper investigates a ‘small story’, the problems around the Fort Calhoun nuclear power plant (Nebraska) in the wet summer of 2011. Relying on materials from digital media, it presents the official and an alternative version of events. Utilizing a constructionist approach, it identifies the search for moral certainty, as well as the importance of blame and conspiracy theories, from which emerges the ‘big story’. Highlighting the important role of on-line media and digital communication, we document not only the official story but also an opposing version based on a coherent worldview emphasising the problems of big government, liberal views and denial of American individual rights—all framed as a conspiracy covering-up a threatening, human-made technology failure. We suggest why this worldview occurs, stressing a widespread emphasis on American values and history, ‘failed journalism’, public uncertainty, the complexity of nuclear technology, and the specific uses of digital communication.

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Correspondence to Jana Fried.

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Eyles, J., Fried, J. & Eyles, E.C. Redacted in Nebraska: the noises of conspiracy around nuclear power problems. GeoJournal 79, 329–342 (2014).

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  • Nuclear power
  • Conspiracy thinking
  • Small story
  • United State
  • Digital culture
  • Internet-based media