Viewers criticize: ZDF colors water vapor from nuclear power plants – once again

A touch of Mordor…

Dark, menacing-looking clouds hang over the nuclear power plant’s two cooling towers. ZDF shows this recording to illustrate its current contribution “Blackout without nuclear power?”. Did the broadcaster intervene here by image processing to make the situation appear more environmentally harmful? At least numerous viewers on social media raise the accusation.

“And the groundhog says hello every day: No, dear ZDF, there is still no black smoke coming from nuclear power plants,” comments one user. Others even speak of “manipulative framing”. Or formulate polemically: “The radiation colors the clouds black. general knowledge.”

The photo is shown by ZDF with and without writing – here with the line “Blackout without nuclear power?”

Photo: ZDF

As early as February, ZDF had the bright water vapor coming from nuclear power plant cooling towers, darkened by image processing and received a lot of criticism for it.

The edited ZDF photo from February 2022

The edited ZDF photo from February 2022

Photo: Julian Roepcke/Twitter

At the time, the broadcaster referred to a so-called “darkening level” that was chosen to make the writing easier to read. However, this was incorrectly positioned. An explanation that didn’t convince everyone: some viewers pointed out that a “darkening layer” would have looked different. In addition, even with a different, deeper positioning, the form of the darkening would not match the writing.

How was this time?

ZDF responded to a BILD request: “The image in question is clearly a photomontage, as is common with thumbnails used to advertise programs on YouTube and other platforms. The ZDFheute live broadcast mentioned dealt with the question of whether there is a risk of a blackout without electricity from gas and nuclear power. In the context of this live stream, the highlighted term blackout stood for the concern about grid stability and power supply during a dark doldrums – combined with the question of whether nuclear power can protect us from this.”

Dark doldrums – the term describes the simultaneous occurrence of darkness and a lull in the wind. According to its own information, ZDF wanted to illustrate this phenomenon by coloring the clouds.

Readability did not play a role this time. The lettering would have been legible even without the coloring. In addition, the photo is also shown without writing.

And: With similar text/image combinations on the subject of wind power, the clouds were not colored black.

In the meantime, ZDF has changed the thumbnail of the current contribution. The dark clouds have cleared. It looks almost idyllic now. A touch of Shire…

Bright steam, clear sky: This is how ZDF now illustrates the contribution

Bright steam, clear sky: This is how ZDF now illustrates the contribution

Photo: ZDF

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