Media coverage of the quake and tsunami in Japan

Maria Jose Gonzalez tkarsavina at
Sun Mar 20 05:39:43 EDT 2011

The Italian piece is simply despicable.I only learnt about the existence of a certain Oettinger  when this catastrophe started and could hardly believe somebody in his position would behave and speak so recklessly.As a Spanish friend said,"every time he speaks,the price of bread goes up"...

--- On Sun, 20/3/11, Martin Vieillot <eigagogo at> wrote:

From: Martin Vieillot <eigagogo at>
Subject: Re: Media coverage of the quake and tsunami in Japan
To: KineJapan at
Date: Sunday, 20 March, 2011, 5:52 PM

The words from Günther Oettinger didn't help either, i wonder if there have been be some official comments about these.
Or maybe it's more about how his words were used/quoted?

Well, exemple are countless unfortutanely (just saw a "Will Japanese cars track radioactivity into the US?" yesterday ..)

----- Mail Original -----
De: "Me" <matteo.boscarol at>
À: KineJapan at
Cc: KineJapan at
Envoyé: Dimanche 20 Mars 2011 09h37:55 GMT +01:00 Amsterdam / Berlin / Berne / Rome / Stockholm / Vienne
Objet: Re: Media coverage of the quake and tsunami in Japan

Let me add just an example of rubbish-journalism from Italy: 

La Repubblica ( the second largest circulation newspaper in Italy): 

"Saitama, the stadium-shelter of contaminated people" (of course there are many photos focusing on people wearing masks...) 

Matteo Boscarol 

Sent from my iPhone 

On 2011/03/20, at 15:35, faith <faithbach at> wrote: 

Thanks to Maria Jose and everyone else who has tried to talk back to these idiots. They should know (altho I daresay they would decline to report it) that here in Kansai seven prefectural govts, under the lead of Gov Hashimoto of Osaka, have begun to organize serious long-term shelter relief using empty govt-owned condos, school dormitories and other comfy places. Present capacity 22,000 at first report with more on the way. [Daily Yomiuri today, p.2] They are ready to welcome evacuees as soon as transpo networks allow them to move down here, and are organizing so that current shelter populations can stay together to remain with friends & neighbors in Kansai. Food, medicine & other supplies will be laid on indefinitely by the prefectural govts and administered by govt workers & volunteers. 

This is how the Funny Little Japanese deal with their crises. I for one am bloody proud of them. 

FB, Kyoto 

--- On Sun, 2011/3/20, Maria Jose Gonzalez <tkarsavina at> wrote: 

    Thanks for your insights,Roger. 
I have been dismayed at the coverage myself and the endless lists of lies,misinterpretations and ignorance/arrogance in all the European media.I turned on to the BBC World channel yesterday and only lasted three minutes.A special correspondent sent from China appeared on the screen.This has been key to the whole issue,most journalists are now based there,not in Japan,and have thus little or no language skills and surprisingly very little general and basic knowledge about Japan which has suffered greatly from this absence since newspapers and TV channels decided that they had to move to the new economic power in the area.This correspondent was about to interview Chinese nationals waiting outside their embassy and happily introduced his report by saying that "more than half of the workers in Japanese factories are Chinese"... Stunned,I switched off. 
A few days earlier,Spain's most important paper announced that the Japanese emperor in an extremely unusual move had addressed their people for the first time in history...When I complained,they said they had not taken into account official acts but addresses like this in a time of crisis.I then asked if addressing the nation for the first time to announce inconditional surrender after the bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in WW2 was crisis enough for them.They ended up elastoplasting the article here and there with little interest. 
Of course,the news theatre has now moved elsewhere and Japan,or should I say the foreigners in Japan whose fate so seemed to worry their governtments and the media,forgetting the real victims,does not feature as prominently today.After all,the big nuclear explosion did not happen and their audiences might be getting tired of yet another funny report about those odd Japanese. 
A while ago,I was watching a press conference organised by the Tokyo Fire Brigade chiefs that had travelled to Fukushima to help.One of them was really moved and teary trying to convey the disaster zones he had travelled through (by the way,foreign media has discovered-and made a big point of-the capacity of the Japanese to cry) while another,ten times more verbally able and confidence-exuding than any of the Tepco engineers and Nuclear Agency spokesmen,explained how they had carried their operations and stretched their hosepipes to better dose the reactors. 
While he was doing so,he was showing a photocopied diagram to which he had added some fire brigade cars in red,I found this most endearing and called my attention again to the whiteboards with written words and numbers we had seen all week.What in other countries would have been simulations,powerpoints and slides,here had been basically pen and paper or board. 
Long again,apologies,so much to reflect upon... 

Maria-Jose Gonzalez 
--- On Sat, 19/3/11, Roger Macy <macyroger at> wrote: 

From: Roger Macy <macyroger at> 
Subject: Media coverage of the quake and tsunami in Japan 
To: "KineJapan" <KineJapan at> 
Date: Saturday, 19 March, 2011, 9:45 PM 

Media coverage of the quake and tsunami in Japan 

Dear KineJapaners, 

I was also glad to have the silence on this list broken and to hear from friends. I sincerely hope that those I have not yet heard from are safe and do not have friends or relatives afflicted by these tragedies. 

There have been direct and indirect references to media coverage of the disaster on the threads ‘Fundraising Screening of CALF …’ and ‘the eerie silence on KineJapan …’ [which we have well-and-truly broken!]. But I would like to hear of members’ takes on the coverage when they are ready. My own contribution is a little long, so feel free to file or delete. 

When I turned on this Saturday morning, here in the UK, just before 8am (in fact, to set my radio timer), there was a studio interview started, on BBC News 24, in a ‘Newswatch’ slot, of Kevin Blackhurst., who I see is Controller of the channel. 

I should straightway give some credit that the interview took place, even though, to me, Blackhurst this week has seemed like pornographer-in-chief. The interviewer (didn’t get a name) was relaying viewers’ complaints that the BBC and other channels had unnecessarily despatched and fronted star reporters, when some pooling with other channels, namely ITN news, would have been more appropriate, and that the reporting had been too excitable. Blackhurst posited that his people were reporting, not presenting, a proposition with which I absolutely disagree. He also answered in a way that the ‘that’ he purported to be answering was the presentation of the nuclear situation, not the actual disaster that has actually already happened. To my mind, that was a full admission of guilt. 

The other topic of viewers’ – no, the audience’s – complaints that I heard was not being able to hear the headlines over the jingles. In this brief discussion ‘hear’ and ‘understand’ were used interchangeably – an equivalence that is fundamentally misconceived for reporting from a non-english-speaking country. This, to me, was the subject that should have been discussed and wasn’t. 

The jingles for 8am then came on – somewhat muted, I thought - and the Libyan situation was covered. When we got to Japan , a named reporter was interviewed with a Tokyo backdrop and presented only the situation concerning the nuclear plants at Fukushima . We were told that the Fukushima fifty were getting massive amounts of radiation. “Massive” was a naked epithet, given fully pornographic emphasis. [ I have read, read in the Guardian, I think, that that the team had been both considerably reinforced and rotated – any clarification gratefully received.] He did say that radiation in Tokyo was negligible but that was it – nothing else in Japan was newsworthy – onto the next story, this one’s dying. 

To my mind, it’s the editing that’s at fault. The stars perform as directed. Nothing gets corrected. The nearest to a correction is that ‘large/massive earthquake in Tokyo ’ on Radio4 gets superseded by maps. But we were told, for example, that several trains were missing, including a shinkansen with 400 people and we get shown pictures of mangled local trains. I’m told that the Japanese media have reported that all trains were evacuated, but desensationalizing isn’t newsworthy. 

I had sworn, after the Twin-towers attack, and its toll of time and depression, never again to inflict upon myself those weeks of woefully edited news. It should not, in 2001, have taken weeks for the purported death toll to come down below 100,000 and for us to understand that just about everyone below the impacts had got out. Numbers, thankfully, seem to one thing our transported stars seem to be able to pick up, so the casualties, although of an appalling magnitude, are already being reported more responsibly than in 2001. [But they have to be served up in western numerals for them; ‘daiichi’ is conveyed as a place name.] Alas, that responsibility seems to be confined to that one ‘island’ where they are following the Japanese media. 

The complaint I hear here is of the sheer imposition and insensitivity of imposing our stars upon the hospitality of desperate people in need - and there are, after all, hundreds of national audiences to be entertained by different teams. I accept that conveying the tragedy and getting a sense that some survived is important news reporting and is best done by interview. But if the interviewees need to be translated, what is gained by having an english-speaking interviewer? – given that so much understanding and initiative has to be lost in the process? More importantly, in terms of ethnic prejudice, why is a victim report only true if mediated through an english-speaking star? 

Lack of language skills in the newsroom is deplorable but actually surmountable in this media age, with a little humility. Since many clips are endlessly repeated in ‘breaking news’, a posting on-line would rapidly elicit a translation (which should, for safety’s sake, be attributed). If newsrooms want to prefer voice-overs to subtitles they will doubtless pursue that. Even without necessity, there is some acceptance of small-screen subtitles ( but, in any case, there is no excuse for ducking both formats and bluffing it out without star-led descriptions of pictures already seen. By that stage, we have descended to something that should fairly be called pornography 

Postscript: clearly, I did not keep my media-self-denying vow, to my bitter regret. It’s harder, of course, with everyone phoning to ask after my daughter, sensationalised by coverage by more unbridled pornography elsewhere. [Mrs Kamahara is fine in Tokyo, a bit demoralised like others, about the ex-pats leaving, but happy that her sister-in-law with a baby to feed has gone down to the family in Nara. And she’s found toilet-paper.] 

If you got this far, thanks for reading it. 


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