The newsworthiness of Japan
Reviewed By Hitoshi URABE
"The newsworthiness of Japan"
International Herald Tribune
"For foreign news media, Japan loses its luster"
(by The New York Times) International Herald Tribune
Also refer to:
"News Review #57" (dated August 15, 2002)
It was informed that the article introduced in "News Review #57" could have included factual errors.
The original article is indicated above as the "Related Article," originally written by a NY Times correspondent which, in a nutshell, reports that the number of foreign correspondents resident in Japan is decreasing, and based on this phenomenon, reasons behind the trend are speculated. The article was a good reading, reflecting the writer's thoughts on such basics as what news is and the function of media while also referring to Japan's affairs, as introduced in "News Review #57."
Then a few days later, Hatsuhisa Takashima, the Press Secretary at Japanese Foreign Ministry, sent in a note, presumably to NY Times to criticize the article, which eventually appeared in IHT.
Mr Takashima claims that there are fundamental errors in the facts presented in the original article. For example, he states that Chicago Tribune will soon send a replacing correspondent to Tokyo where in the original article said it is closing down the office. Also, the number of Swedish bureaus presently operating is three instead of one as indicated in the article, and that an Italian newspaper introduced as closing down the office in the original article never had a permanent office and it was only a part-timer leaving Japan for personal reasons.
Mr Takashima goes on to say that a number of respectable media have had a significant number of correspondents stationed in Japan, such as the Financial Times maintaining eight. He concludes his argument by quoting a comment by a Financial Times correspondent, "The size of the bureau reflects the paper's commitment to properly covering the world's second largest economy, and also reflects Japan's importance on the global economic stage."
It should be noted that Mr Takashima did not argue against every incident the NY Times article had pointed out, nor he showed any meaningful statistics. It is therefore not clear, as to whether the number of correspondent in Japan has decreased or has been unchanged in the recent years.
As alluded to in the original NY Times article, and has been pointed out in News Review #57, events and incidents that are unusual, strange, or spectacular are easy to attract media attention. But it is normally difficult to find sensational subjects especially in a mature and stable society, so which Japan happens to be along with other developed and civilized countries.
Although it would be comforting, instinctively for ordinary people and professionally for those such as Mr Takashima, to know that Japan is amply covered by foreign media, it is after all a reflection of Japan's position in and the level of influence it has to the world at large.
The writer of the original NY Times article is an experienced and knowledgeable correspondent proven through his reports that appear almost every day in the paper and the web, effectively broadcasting the events, and non-events, in Japan. Moreover, many of the thoughts expressed and implied in the original article are generally valid and worth considering.
Still, the ignorance was of the sort not easily tolerated for a professional reporter whose function, at the bottom line, is to report facts. Perhaps he has fallen to a pitfall he intended to warn in his own article, that it is easier to write sensationally than to prepare reports based upon at times tedious fact-finding and thorough analysis.