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Canadian journalists in Japan at risk?

Radio France recently reported that they are withdrawing six of the seven reporters and technical staff they sent to Japan, over concerns of radiation, and journalist organizations are urging journalists on the ground to equip themselves with anti-radiation meds.

The Toronto Star has three correspondents covering the story: Rosie Dimanno in Tokyo and Rick Westhead and Bill Shiller in the north.

Tuesday afternoon The Star's foreign editor, Colin McKenzie, told J-Source:

"We were more alarmed in the morning than we are at the moment, but it's still not a great situation. Our guy closest to the zone, Rick Westhead, is moving west to, sort of, get up wind. We're not moving any closer to the zone. We think it's safe to stay in Tokyo and the boys in the field get to make the call on their own about their comfort level with the safety of the situation. Neither are within more than 150 clicks of the reactor at the moment. They're both way further north. So it's not as urgent for us as for some guys who are closer, but we're definitely working out how to slide towards the exits."

He added: "I think you just want to stay as far away as possible from anything like a Chernobyl-style plume. It doesn't look we're into that scenario at the moment, and the wind is shifting as I understand it, as we speak, to just blow straight out to sea, so we're not as anxious as we were this morning."

Could the reporters get out if they wanted to?

"They can certainly drive up wind," McKenzie said, then hesitated. "There's this dreadful shortage of gasoline in the entire zone. So, without going into too many details about our troop movements, one guy's close to an airport so he can get out, if he thinks that's what he needs to do, tomorrow morning, and the other guy is trying to figure out how to move to the west, and that may require a bus or a train, because there's no gasoline for the car."

This was first posted on J-Source, a blog covering media ideas and news. J-Source is published by the Canadian Journalism Foundation in collaboration with leading journalism schools and organizations across Canada.

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