Reporting Japan:
A Foreign Journalist’s View
Eric Johnston
Deputy Editor, The Japan Times
Kansai University of Foreign Stu...
Who is the Foreign Media in Japan?
 As of March, 2008, approximately 600 foreign
journalists are registered with Japan’s ...
Major Foreign Media Outlets in Japan
 Wire Services: Associated Press, Reuters, AFP,
Bloomberg Business News.
 Televisio...
OTHER MEDIA
 FREELANCERS: Mostly newspaper and magazine
writers, freelancers tend to write for Japan’s English
language m...
JAPAN-BASED ENGLISH
LANGUAGE MEDIA
 3 daily newspapers (The Japan Times, The
Daily Yomiuri, the IHT-Asahi). Combined
circ...
English Language Media Coverage of
Japan: Common Traits
 Vast majority of news stories and information on
Japanese politi...
The Four Foreign Media
Views/Stereotypes of Japan
Technology
Paradise
Economic
Powerhouse
War Criminal
 Declining
Regi...
(1) Technology Paradise
 ``Japan is the home to some of the world’s most advanced
technology. From cell phones to LCD tel...
(2) Economic Powerhouse
 ``Despite the rise of China and the ASEAN nations
over the past decade, Japan’s GDP, GNP and
eco...
(3) War Criminal
 ``Since the end of the Cold War in Europe, Japan has
continued to swing to the right, politically. This...
Declining Regional Power
 ``Japan’s population will drastically shrink over the
next half century, and the country’s dist...
Reporting in Japan: Good Points
 Freedom of the Press in Japan is quite advanced.
According to a 2006 report by Reporters...
Reporting in Japan: Bad Points
 Japanese in positions of power often do not feel a
sense of responsibility to communicate...
How Foreign Media Often Sees
Japanese Journalists
 Mainstream Print Media Journalist =
Conservative Salariman
 Tabloid J...
Do Japanese Journalists Need Training
Before Becoming Journalists?
 Professional Journalism Schools: Necessary or not?
 ...
Trends
 Foreign mass media coverage of Japan’s domestic political,
social, and economic changes is likely to continue to ...
Trends
 Traditional media such as newspapers and magazines will
cover less straight news regarding Japan, and offer more
...
In Conclusion
 Reporting on Japan as a foreign correspondent is relatively
easy in terms of logistics, technology, and th...
THANK YOU VERY MUCH!!!
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Reporting japan.ppt4 ``Reporting Japan: A Foreign Jounalist's View''

  1. 1. Reporting Japan: A Foreign Journalist’s View Eric Johnston Deputy Editor, The Japan Times Kansai University of Foreign StudiesKansai University of Foreign Studies Sept. 16Sept. 16thth , 2008, 2008
  2. 2. Who is the Foreign Media in Japan?  As of March, 2008, approximately 600 foreign journalists are registered with Japan’s Foreign Ministry. Majority are from the West and East Asia.  One unofficial estimate is that there are another 500 Westerners around Japan who write for foreign media about various aspects of Japanese society and culture.  An unknown number of Japanese work for various foreign media on a regular or semi-regular basis.
  3. 3. Major Foreign Media Outlets in Japan  Wire Services: Associated Press, Reuters, AFP, Bloomberg Business News.  Television: CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS (America), BBC, Reuters TV (England), Bloomberg (U.S., business news), various European freelance film crews.  Newspapers: New York Times, Los Angeles Times, London Times, Financial Times, The Australian and Washington Post have full Tokyo bureaus. The Guardian, The Independent, San Francisco Chronicle, Singapore Straits-Times, South China Morning Post, have freelance stringers.
  4. 4. OTHER MEDIA  FREELANCERS: Mostly newspaper and magazine writers, freelancers tend to write for Japan’s English language media or for overseas publications on specialized aspects of Japanese culture (traditional visual and performing arts, architecture, music (J- pop), anime.  SPECIALIZED MEDIA: Trade journalists who cover one specific industry (autos, electronics, finance, aviation, military issues, science issues)
  5. 5. JAPAN-BASED ENGLISH LANGUAGE MEDIA  3 daily newspapers (The Japan Times, The Daily Yomiuri, the IHT-Asahi). Combined circulation is roughly 120,000 daily.  Three major Internet News sites (Japan Today, Japan Focus, and Mainichi Daily News).  Three major monthly magazines (Metropolis, Kansai Out, Japanzine)  Various quarterly magazines: (Kyoto Journal, Tokyo Journal)
  6. 6. English Language Media Coverage of Japan: Common Traits  Vast majority of news stories and information on Japanese politics and society originates with Kyodo, AP, AFP, and Reuters wire service reports, or translations of vernacular press or with Japanese television.  Virtually all English language journalism on Japan originates in Tokyo, which means that for reporters, editors, TV and radio producers, Tokyo = Japan.
  7. 7. The Four Foreign Media Views/Stereotypes of Japan Technology Paradise Economic Powerhouse War Criminal  Declining Regional Power
  8. 8. (1) Technology Paradise  ``Japan is the home to some of the world’s most advanced technology. From cell phones to LCD television sets to hybrid automobiles, to the coolest video games and anime, Japanese firms like Sony, Toyota, Sharp, Sega, and a host of others produce the world’s most innovative technology.’’  Major Media Promoting this View: Foreign wire services, a few trade magazines for auto and electronic industries, a few foreign TV stations, freelancers for Japan-based magazines and trade publications.
  9. 9. (2) Economic Powerhouse  ``Despite the rise of China and the ASEAN nations over the past decade, Japan’s GDP, GNP and economic standard of living remain unmatched. Japan’s free market, democratic system means it will continue to remain economically strong in years to come.’’  Major Media Promoting this View: U.S. business and economic newspapers and magazines (Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Fortune, Business Week)
  10. 10. (3) War Criminal  ``Since the end of the Cold War in Europe, Japan has continued to swing to the right, politically. This, combined with the country’s collective amnesia over what it did to Asia during the first half of the 20th century and it’s ongoing refusal to learn such history, means that the world cannot really trust Japan’s intentions.’’  Major Media Promoting this View: Chinese and Korean language media, bloggers, some European newspapers, numerous scholarly journals, the occasional U.S. or British U.S. newspaper.
  11. 11. Declining Regional Power  ``Japan’s population will drastically shrink over the next half century, and the country’s distrust of foreigners means the Japanese people will not welcome foreign immigration to help maintain GDP. The U.S.-Japan military relationship is still vital, but, as China and India rise, Japan will decline in regional importance.’’  Major Media Promoting this View: Major U.S., British newspapers, TV stations, news magazines, scholarly journals, bloggers. Some Chinese and Korean language media.
  12. 12. Reporting in Japan: Good Points  Freedom of the Press in Japan is quite advanced. According to a 2006 report by Reporters Without Borders, Japan’s legal press freedoms are now actually greater than those of the United States.  Japan is an advanced industrial society with the world’s most time-efficient urban centers (train system, strong work ethic)  Most Japanese generally have a favorable view reporters, especially Western reporters.
  13. 13. Reporting in Japan: Bad Points  Japanese in positions of power often do not feel a sense of responsibility to communicate as thoroughly, timely, and effectively with foreign media compard to officials in other advanced democracies.  The Japanese media too often distrusts the foreign media and cooperation between Japan’s media and the foreign media is not as broad as it should be.  The press club system.
  14. 14. How Foreign Media Often Sees Japanese Journalists  Mainstream Print Media Journalist = Conservative Salariman  Tabloid Journalist = Independent, Great Storyteller, and Sometimes More Ethical than Mainstream Media Journalist, but Take with a Grain of Salt  Television Journalists = Good At Reporting Basic Facts, Not as Good with Context, Historical Background, or Diversity of Views.
  15. 15. Do Japanese Journalists Need Training Before Becoming Journalists?  Professional Journalism Schools: Necessary or not?  Yes, say many American journalists familiar with Japan. No, say journalists from other countries who dislike American journalistic notions of ``objectivity’’. Perhaps, say some in the Japanese media.  MY VIEW: While U.S.-style journalism schools are not needed, basic education in fact-gathering, research, and logical analysis, debate, the basics of modern history, Japan’s constitutional laws related to freedom of speech, civics and the role of the bureaucracy, and a course or two in communication is very much needed.
  16. 16. Trends  Foreign mass media coverage of Japan’s domestic political, social, and economic changes is likely to continue to decrease, as China and India rise and as newsroom budgets worldwide shrink, especially for foreign news.  The traditional foreign correspondents popularized in song and story are becoming an endangered species. In their place, an army of bloggers is arising.  Coverage of Japan’s role abroad might increase in specialized media, as the world looks with a combination of fear and envy at China.
  17. 17. Trends  Traditional media such as newspapers and magazines will cover less straight news regarding Japan, and offer more feature and background-type pieces. Specialization of media covering Japan will continue.  Internet media, including Internet Radio and Internet Television broadcasting, will become more respectable and provide up-to-the minute information on Japan, but will contain less in the way of deep analysis about topics not of interest to those who are not ``Japan Hands’’ or are unwilling to pay, in the form of advertising and subscriptions, for certain kinds of information.
  18. 18. In Conclusion  Reporting on Japan as a foreign correspondent is relatively easy in terms of logistics, technology, and thanks to the organizational ability of Japanese in general. The Japanese language hinders foreign journalists from doing in-depth reporting, but those who have at least an intermediate degree of fluency seem to have few serious logistical problems.  Reporting on Japan as a foreign correspondent is relatively difficult in terms of finding stories that will capture the attention of editors who have the four basic views of Japan and who have to consider space for stories coming out of China, India, and the Middle East. The high cost of living and working in Japan has hit foreign journalists here especially hard, as travel and entertainment budgets get slashed.
  19. 19. THANK YOU VERY MUCH!!!

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