By EPCM World contributors Nikki Fotheringham and Serina Penner
Old habits die hard. The nuclear industry is filled with apprehension over change and, with years of secrecy under its belt, old habits are still very much alive and kicking. The penchant for secrecy is not surprising considering the science behind the industry was concieved amid the development of nuclear arms from 1939-1945. After the United States won the war, the nuclear industry’s focus changed to civilian use, but the veil of secrecy remained. Until now.
At the forefront of the battle to raise awareness and open up the industry is Nuclear Television, better known as NLTV.co.uk. Browsing through their website, you find an interesting and informative mix of videos discusssing the industry for both beginners and the more tech savvy. Constant addition of news and ideas, along with videos and podcasts, is an attempt to bring this generation’s nuclear experts into the future.
NLTV was founded on the hopes of “improving knowledge capture, analysis and transfer mechanisms to enable the nuclear industry to fully benefit from any knowledge captured from that industry.” Founded by four industry experts, Dr John Roberts, Neil Fagan, Louise Fagan, and Andy Clarke in 2011, their dream was to bring cutting-edge media expertise to nuclear industry discussions. This has not been an easy battle to fight. As co-founder Andy Clarke, former manager of Nuclear Postgraduate Programmes at University of Manchester and past Consultant at Michael Page International, points out, “We (NLTV) are facing two very singificant cultural issues in opening up the discussion, both of which are difficult to breakdown.”
According to Clarke, the two issues are that the nuclear industry has always been a tight-knit group. This has facilitated an exclusive industry that is operated by induviduals who have worked in much the same fashion for the past decade. Attempting to change the old ways, run by fear and an inherent un-willingness to share brought on by episodes such as the Cold War, is what NLTV is all about. “Driving stake holder engagement, building trust so that we can begin to share our knowledge in the industry,” is most definitly a goal for NLTV.
The second issue is the difficulty in bringing a modern edge to an industry that is not known for its media savvy. These days, everything is shared on the internet. “It’s an incredibly huge struggle fighting against the culture of privacy,” Clarke explains. The team at NLTV tirelessly works to change perceptions and the way in which the nuclear industry interacts with the public.
The future of nuclear technology, as NLTV sees it, is a bright one. You may assume here that NLTV’s goal is to change public opinion on nuclear energy; helping to prove to the world that it is the best and only alternative for future energy production. You couldn’t be more wrong. To great surprise NLTV strives “not to change peoples’ minds, but merely to open them.” Clarke himself sees the future of nuclear energy being “a part of the mix, not ‘the’ answer, but ‘an’ answer” to the consumption needs of tomorrow and today.
As an independent source of information, NLTV is able to air differing opinions. “We are open to any and all discussions,” states Clarke. This kind of openess is disturbing to many of the industry leaders and some consider NLTV’s open-ended analysis as an airing out of laundry that the general public need not know about. Clarke and his counterparts beg to differ. By inviting groups such as Green Peace to their podcast mix, NLTV has proven that they are, in fact, dedicated to a discourse of inclusion.
When talking about the biggest obstacles blocking the progression of NLTV, Clarke is adament that they revolve around the ability to get more content. Clarke says that the “culture of privacy makes it very difficult to get new and interesting additions of content” to the website. Often, NLTV will attend a public lecture, film and edit it, and send it back to the institution represented only to be denied the rights to publish the lectures on their site. As these lectures are held in the public arena, it seems strange that the powers that be would be reticent to air them online. To Clarke and his confederates, “NLTV is a way for stakeholders to engage, be that someone who wants to be heard, a company looking to find new employees, a company wishing to give a statement, or an organization wishing to have a lecture or event.” The industry will change, and NLTV is hoping to be a driving force behind nuclear energies’ media presence.