Results


The fundamental purpose of the project was to research and discover what influence the media has on students' opinions of nuclear power as a source of energy. The first theory behind the project was that the media plays an important role in how the public forms opinions on issues in society. In addition, the other hypothesis was that the media negatively affected students' attitudes about nuclear energy.

Careful analysis of the questionnaire answers revealed strong support for the first theory. When asked to agree or disagree with the statement that the media plays an important role in how I receive information about issues in my area as well as the world, 43% agreed and 26% strongly agreed. Only 4% responded with the I don't know option and 8% disagreed with the statement. Another question asked how often the student watches the news. The most popular answer with 34% of the students' vote was once a week. In addition, 26% said they watch the news once a day. However, another 26% said they never watch the news. Because, over two-thirds of the students surveyed watched the news at least once a week, the first theory is again correct.

The results of the survey only slightly supported the second theory stating that the media negatively influenced students' attitudes towards nuclear power. To begin, the majority of the students surveyed had heard of nuclear power. One question on the survey asked the students to check all the methods of information from which they had learned about nuclear power. Sixty-nine percent responded to the television news option, 52% checked the newspaper option and 60% choose school. The majority of the students at least checked both television news and newspaper. However, only 8% had heard of nuclear power from the radio.

Another question supporting this theory addressed what nuclear power issues were being discussed in the media at the time the students were watching, listening or reading. Seventy-eight percent said crises or problems, and 65% said the topic was effects to the environment from the use of nuclear power. Another question leading to the conclusion that the second theory was only slightly supported addressed whether students agree or disagree with this statement: The production of nuclear power is safer for the environment than burning coal or using other natural resources. Forty-seven percent of the students chose the "do not know" option. Only 26% agreed with the statement and 8% disagreed.

The survey asked students to rank these items from least to greatest concern: greenhouse gases, water pollution, solid waste, radiation exposure to people, nuclear plant meltdown, and cost of power to consumer. The majority of the students chose water pollution, greenhouse gases and solid waste as their top three concerns. However, 30 % chose radiation exposure as their fourth answer, and 17% chose radiation as either their first or second choice. Forty-three percent of those surveyed ranked nuclear plant meltdown as their fifth concern. However, 13% chose it as their first concern. Cost of power to the consumer ranked sixth in 60% of the students, with only 4% ranking it as first choice.