South African nuclear spin part III July 11, 2008Posted by Andreas in Uncategorized.
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You may remember me writing about the growing public relations effort around the world and in South Africa dedicated to making nuclear power more palatable to the general public. I commented on a pro-nuclear article written in Greenprint by Mike Freedman of a local PR outfit called Freedthinkers. His take on the issue seemed to be that the only thing wrong with atomic energy industry was that it had not spent enough money on good PR.
In response to my questions about his article, Mr Freedman said the following:
I write in my private capacity. I am not a representative of government, neither do I inform them of what I write.
The work we did for the dti had nothing to do with Eskom & PBMR.
This may have been true at the time, but alas, it seems that Mr Freedman has now officially joined the nuclear lobby in more than just a “private capacity” – or perhaps his article got him the attention of people who were willing to pay money for the contribution he was already making so selflessly for free.
According to an article in The Times which makes for really interesting reading,
The government has enlisted the aid of a brand consultant to give the image of nuclear power in South Africa a major makeover.
It is seeking to identify so-called “nuclear ambassadors” to endorse nuclear power stations in communities and the business world.
But opponents fear that the move may be an attempt to short-circuit public consultation as the government presses ahead with its programme to build a dozen more conventional plants and at least twice that number of pebble-bed reactors.
The makeover initiative was being led by the department of public enterprises, working with minerals and energy and Eskom.
They hired the services of brand consultants Freedthinkers, which calls itself a “research and development think-tank”.
Freedthinkers had begun conducting interviews with a range of people in organisations including the business sector, large corporations, and NGOs.
According to the guide that Freedthinkers provided for its interviewers, the objective of the project was to “unearth the perceptions, misperceptions, fears and expectations surrounding nuclear power and related issues”.