Crappy Journalism, Great Blogging: On reporting the J Crisis

Looks like someone forgot the CAPS on...


Last night I stayed up all night and the only thing that happened, aside from my eye lids struggling to stay open today, was me getting really pissed off.

I stayed up late and decided to catch up on the “news coverage” of what’s going on in Japan by checking out several news websites. What I saw were puff pieces and downright bullshit by several American news organizations (European ones? I can’t even find an appropriate adjective for these disaster-pimps) . I saw some journalists who should basically pack it in and get a job fetching coffee for camera operators as opposed to standing in front of a camera.

I’ve been basically keeping up on the most up to date news of the disaster here in Japan from a few sources. One of them of course being Japanese television (I do indeed live in Japan) and the other being Twitter. I do realize that Twitter is often a repository for people’s thoughts and opinions, but during this ongoing crisis, something different has happened. Many bloggers and vloggers based in Japan have really stepped up and have become truly credible news sources. They are spending their days and nights scouring news services, both domestic and foreign and sharing links and stories with the world. More often than not, these bloggers have been far more accurate in their reporting and views than many professional journalists.

Now of course, I cannot dump on all foreign media covering this crisis. Many correspondents and writers for foreign print/digital media have indeed been living in Japan for a long time, speak the language and understand the culture. Those journalists stand out.

I’m talking about the representatives of foreign media who are parachuted (not literally of course) in to the tsunami/disaster zone and report with no background or understanding of the people or culture. They are sent in from countries such as the U.S. and the U.K. to quickly publish puff pieces or “hard hitting” news with very few, if any facts correct. These are the folks that piss me off royally! These are the people who sell papers through bullshit and fear mongering.

One of my majors is media. This is what I studied in Mass Communication 101: “If it bleeds, it leads”… Simply put, sensational sells. That has been the case since the advent of newspapers and has not changed. Whether you are consuming You Tube videos, blogs, print or televised media; sensational sells! Unfortunately, sensational usually doesn’t equal accurate…

Now, back to these bloggers on Twitter who have been doing such an amazing job keeping the world informed about what is really happening. Many of them are doing such a great job because of the fact that they have been here for a long time, they speak the language, understand the culture and most of all, I think, are connected to Japan. They care about Japan and the Japanese people. They have a vested interest in the country and want to tell people, both here and abroad the real story. They may not be “professional” journalists, but they cite sources, do their research and work very hard to get things correct.

I would like to say something to all the journalists who represent foreign news organizations in Japan during this crisis:

Please do your research and get the story right before you publish it. You are the reason my family back home is scared out of their minds. You are the reason I will be roaming around China with two immense suit cases because my parents now want me to flee Asia when the  reactors blow off and turn everyone into mutated zombies. You are the reason so many expats, exchange students in Japan have scared families in their respective countries. You are the reason everyone is ignoring the real problem, the tens of thousands of people without shelter or water in Miyagi. You are the reason everyone is ignoring the fact that there haven’t been any looting whatsoever. You are the reason no one know that the mail got delivered in Tokyo the very next day, on time.

Honor the people of Japan by getting the story right.


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Amanda Fields
    Mar 18, 2011 @ 02:33:33

    Interesting piece! Could you tell us about some specific news stories that have seemed egregiously inaccurate?


    • Dina
      Mar 21, 2011 @ 00:13:26

      I was surprised that not only tabloids reported inaccurate news with catchy titles, but also the ones with big names. The BBC published a story about an volcanic eruption that was triggered by the earthquake southern Japan, the next day the earthquake shook us all, people started sharing the news, tweeting, retweeting, only to be discovered that this eruption was a month ago actually…. It was pulled out later but no apology was published… and the list goes on.

      This “Japan Journalists Wall of Shame” was started by one of the Japan based bloggers and it expanded exponentially within two days only. All kinds of egregiously inaccurate news is here:


  2. Jasmine
    Mar 18, 2011 @ 04:24:24

    Yes!! I’ve been trying to find credible news sources for Japan’s situation, but everyone seems to be strictly covering the nuclear issue and how trickles of radiation will blow over to California -_-. Mind if you link us to some of the twitter bloggers?


    • Dina
      Mar 21, 2011 @ 00:15:48

      Sorry for the late reply! I’m right now in China so I don’t have any access to twitter, even blogspot wouldn’t load! so sorry, if you give me a couple of days I will send you proper links 🙂


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