Japanese radiation -- why is the info so fuzzy?

Not sure if this is GQ, IMHO, GD, or even CS, but we’ll try it here:

It seems like the information coming from Japan about the amount of radiation leaking from the reactors is extremely fuzzy, and is being filtered through government and industry spokespeople.

It doesn’t seem to me that this needs to be the case. Can’t anyone get their hands on the necessary monitoring equipment?

If I ran a news network, I’d buy a couple of monitors, put a nice bright red line on the dangerous levels, stick one in the ground in Sendai, one in Tokyo, and one in San Francisco. And put images of them up on my website and/or on live TV, 24/7.

Is that so hard?

Because actually reporting that the radiation levels are negligible compared to a plane ride (graph courtesy of XKCD) does not sell newspapers and ad space.

Fearmongering, however, does.

That was enlightening. Now where does the radiation of Daiichi fall on the chart? Less than TMI, I’ve heard.

There is some useful information here:

It appears that the NY Times was on the ball; it would be nice if other media outlets followed their lead.

(Why the hell are doses measured in both Rems and Sieverts, if the 2 are equivalent? (1 Sievert = 100 REM)? Makes for very confusing reading.)

Same reason length can be measured in both feet and metres, one(sievert) is an SI-unit, the other(rem) isn’t.