Posts Tagged ‘Chesterton Tribune’

Nukes

January 16th, 2010 by Collin Canright | 1 Comment | Filed in History, Political Economy

This post is part of the Collin’s 50th! series, in which I look back as a way of moving forward.

In writing about my 1981 article, “The High Impact of Low Level Radiation,” in the post Political Economy, I recalled my time as an anti-nuclear protester, in marches for the Bailly Alliance, a group dedicated to stopping the Bailly Nuclear 1 plant, to be located on the shores of Lake Michican near Chesterton, Indiana. The promise and perils of nuclear energy have been in the news lately–the debates in Northwest Indiana in the late 1970s are again relevant today.

Needless to say, this was a topic of great interest in a highly populated and environmentally sensitive region of the country. My family, publishers of The Chesterton Tribune, spent a lot of time and effort covering the plant’s planning and approval process, including several trips to Washington, DC, for Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) hearings on plant approval. My own reporting contribution included a report on an NRC headlined “NRC to require state Emergency Action plans.”

My father, John, the paper’s editor, initially supported the plant in editorials, and coverage was generally neutral. That led to some conflict within the paper because my cousin Dave, who completely opposed the plant, was a Bailly Alliance member, as were a number of other staff and me.

With the Three Mile Island accident in 1979, coverage took a turn. What seemed promising years earlier was now a potential nightmare. The journalistic turning point came in heading writing. My dad was careful to always use the formal name of the plant in articles: “Bailly Nuclear 1” or “Bailly N1.” As opposition mounted, and it became apparent that the plant construction would not be approved, we all decided just call it a “nuke.” For more, see the sidebar to the low-level radiation article, “Burn-Out at Bailly: NIPSCO’s Nuclear Fizzle.”

The questions surrounding nuclear power are far from resolved and are generating (heh, heh, heh) increasing interest. Current plants happen to be working quite well, and were it not for the continuing problems of nuclear waste disposal and nuclear proliferation, nuclear power may well provide a solution to future energy generation. “The nuclear option should be retained precisely because it is an important carbon-free source of power,” states MIT’s study on The Future of Nuclear Energy, updated in 2009.

Two leading magazines covered nuclear power in December 2009 issues, with The Economist reporting on “Nuclear’s next generation,” a readable report on the pros and cons of six new designs for nuclear power plants. Wired magazine weighed in with its preferred nuclear alternative in “Uranium Is So Last Century — Enter Thorium, the New Green Nuke.”

Maybe. Wired made a great case for nukes in February 2005, in “Nuclear Now! How clean, green atomic energy can stop global warming,” and I believe it’s the best alternative for mass energy production in the future.

Yet a nuclear milestone last week gives pause, with stories about the death at 93 of Tsutomu Yamaguchi, the only survivor of the nuclear blasts at both Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I still have the No Nukes T-shirt I silk screened for the Bailly Alliance just in case.

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Feature Writing

October 25th, 2009 by Collin Canright | No Comments | Filed in Journalism

As a newspaper writer, I excelled at features. I did news OK and loved covering town meetings, like my dad. I generally, however, disdained news reporters as shallow and superficial writers. As a feature writer, you could really write, and you could write long.

I started out studying photojournalism. For The Chesterton Tribune, my family’s newspaper, I shot and wrote a feature on the survival of he nation’s last interurban railroad, the Chicago South Shore and South Bend Railroad, which I loved to ride into the city of Chicago.

Later on, I styled my writing after Tom Wolfe and Hunter S. Thompson.

HST Autograph

HST Autograph

In that vein, I wrote as Gonzo, stream of consciousness, and observational as I could in “Late Night Life,” a feature my daughter Lilli suggested I include. I find it interesting now that my interests in human potential focus on choice and consciousness.

I did not completely disdain news. I covered a fire and tried to capture how it was fought as an intern at The Times of Hammond, Indiana. I was also the only Chicago-area reporter to interview an alleged shyster preacher in “Issue Splits Church.”

I wrote short introductions as well. My favorite is “Thinking Eyes Feeling Moments,” an introduction for the Missourian Sunday magazine’s story on the Picture of the Year competition. This was the first issue designed by my fellow student Chris Paule. I had a crush on her, but she didn’t know it. I think it was reading this piece where she decided I probably wasn’t just a heartless snobby critic after all.

Luminous Faces of Pilgrims” is in a similar vein and introduced an article written on pilgrimages by Dr. Judith Wright. The title says it all.

My favorite feature is “Runaway,” written for the Missourian. I met this runaway kid, and this story recounts my meeting with him as a narrative for a story on runaway kids in Columbia, MO. It was the last student feature I wrote and is, in retrospect, a disciplined version of the criticism and feature writing I did at Indiana combined with the political and economic reporting I learned in class.

My features editor loved it and got it published, even though her boss, who headed the features section of the paper, didn’t like long stories at all. (The Columbia Missourian is a professional paper run by professional reporters and editors as a lab for students at the University of Missouri School of Journalism, generally regarded at the nation’s best.)

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