Tag Archives: Japan

NHK credibility on the line

Government-owned news organizations usually cause some people to pause and think about the impartiality of the editorial policy. And yet some of the most respectable news organizations in the world depend on government largesse.

No one will question the quality and independent nature of the BBC.

Likewise, the Voice of America has an international reputation of fairness and impartiality. (A handful of misinformed Americans and anti-US propagandists outside America think otherwise, but the facts are against them.) And has a charter protecting journalists from interference from political control.

In Asia RTHK in Hong Kong fights daily to keep mainland China and the Hong Kong government out of its editorial policy. So far, it has been successful.

Also in Asia the NHK is seen as a global example of a government-financed news organization that digs deep, tells its stories without bias and stays with the facts.

Now, the reputation of the NHK is on the line.

In recent months, some members of the board of governors at NHK have expressed extreme positions, such as the Rape of Nanjing never happened and defended the practice of “sex slaves” during World War II.

Board member Naoki Hyakuta said Japan was lured into the war by America because of the economic embargo imposed after Japan invaded China. He also said Japan was liberating Asia from white colonialism.

According to the Independent in London, NHK’s new chairman, Katsuto Momii, stunned journalists by saying it was “only natural” that NHK should follow the government line on Japan’s territorial disputes with its neighbors. “When the government says ‘left’ we can’t say ‘right’,” he said.

It is that very statement that has people – including other news organizations in Japan – nervous.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe named Momii and Hyakuta to the 12-member board. He also named two other members who have also expressed hardline nationalist views.

Abe has a history of interfering with the NHK prodcuts.

According to The Diplomat:

[Abe] was the central player in the notorious muzzling of a NHK documentary about the comfort women that took place a few years ago. The documentary in question concerned efforts by women’s rights groups in Japan to highlight the government’s failure adequately to compensate surviving comfort women. Abe, already a very senior government official, paid a personal visit to NHK shortly before airtime to insist that the documentary be “fair and neutral.” NHK management immediately called the producers to demand drastic editorial changes to the already completed program. Last-minute revisions included the removal of all criticism of LDP policy and Emperor Hirohito. Also cut were dramatic confessions by two Japanese veterans admitting rape. Criticisms of the women’s movement were hurriedly inserted, including an interview with a discredited revisionist historian. Even the program title was whitewashed, from “Japanese Military’s Wartime Sexual Violence” to “Questioning Wartime Sexual Violence.” Far from being “fair and neutral” the final program was a lop-sided swipe at the redress movement and a complete exoneration of the LDP.

The Japanese High Court cleared Abe of charges of interference and berated the documentary producers for over reacting to Abe’s visit.

If the views of the board find their way into the NHK reporting, Japan and the world will lose what has been an excellent news organization.

A bit more reading on this issue:

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Filed under Asia, Harassment, International News Coverage

Local-Global: Japan rescue efforts show local connection

The editors of the  hyper-local news service Patch.com seem understand that there are local connections to international events. And they are willing to really work those connections.

The Fairfax City Patch is running raw updates from the Fairfax County Urban Search and Rescue Team.

The Fairfax team — VATF1 for Virginia Task Force 1 — was created in 1986, a year after the Mexico City earthquake.

The Task Force began its humanitarian response relationship with the US Agency for International Development – Office of US Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID-OFDA) in 1986 following a tragic 1985 seismic event in Mexico City. Realizing the void of qualified search and rescue resources in the Americas Region, USAID-OFDA joined in a strategic partnership with Fairfax County and the Miami-Dade Fire and Rescue Departments to develop a self-sustainable response resource. Its first deployment was to the former Soviet Armenia in 1988 in the aftermath of a large earthquake.

I saw first hand the importance of SAR teams from around the world in the Mexico earthquake. Since that time, other communities around the United States set up similar special teams to aid in disaster relief.

Many of these teams were deployed to New Orleans after Katrina hit. They also went to China and Haiti to help after the earthquakes in those countries.

The activities of these teams are all local stories waiting to be told. And those stories of international issues can be told without sending one reporter overseas.

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Filed under Connections, International News Coverage, Story Ideas

E-W Center offers chances to learn global-local links

Thanks to SPJ Leads for the heads up of three great programs for journalists to get international experience.

And for those who may not want to or cannot apply for these programs, there are chances to meet the journalists who will be visiting from other countries. It is really not that difficult to get on the itinerary of the visiting journalists. Just contact the East-West Center and see if the visitors will be in your area. Then offer to sponsor a reception, newsroom visit or meeting with the local journalism school.

Minimum work. Maximum benefit.

And who knows, it might even educate a few people that there is a whole big world out there that has direct connections to their little part of the planet.

CULTURE THROUGH JOURNALISM

The East-West Center works to promote better relations and understanding among the people and nations of the United States, Asia, and the Pacific through cooperative study, research and dialogue. Journalism fellowships and exchanges for working American and Asia Pacific journalists promote understanding of the complexities of the Asia Pacific region through study tours.

The Center is now accepting applications for the following three programs:

  • Japan-U.S. Journalists Exchange: For Japanese and American journalists. Japanese journalists travel to three cities in the United States; American journalists travel to three cities in Japan.
  • Pakistan-U.S. Journalists Exchange: For Pakistani and American journalists. Pakistani journalists travel to the United States; American journalists travel to Pakistan. All journalists meet at the East-West Center in Honolulu, Hawaii for dialogue sessions before and after the program.
  • Senior Journalists Seminar: For Asian journalists (from select countries) and American journalists; Asian journalists travel to three cities in the United States; American journalists travel to two or three cities in Asia; to enhance understanding between the United States and the Asian Muslim world.

First posted at DC SPJ

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