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Yu Terasawa on Conformist Media

SNA (Tokyo) — Yu Terasawa, selected by Reporters Without Borders as one of its 100 Information Heroes for 2014, explains how the major Japanese media and the government collude through the press club system, and keep the independent voices out.

Transcript

Narrator: On World Press Freedom Day of 2014, the France-based organization Reporters Without Borders honored one hundred journalists from around the world as “Information Heroes.” Glenn Greenwald was there, you’ve probably heard of him. Julian Assange was there, you probably know him, too. But, there was also one journalist from Japan who was honored—Yu Terasawa. But, don’t expect to read about his prestigious award in the Japanese media, which was united in completely ignoring this development.

Yu Terasawa: Since I was chosen as one of the hundred based on criticism of the big media companies and the press club system, naturally they are not interested in telling the Japanese people. If they did, they would have to explain the nature of the problem and reveal the kind of business they are really engaged in. It’s easy for me to comprehend why they are silent about it.

Narrator: Terasawa explains the basic reason why the Japanese press clubs are problematic.

Yu Terasawa: The press club problem concerns offices provided in the government building exclusively for use by certain big media organizations. These offices are often given for free based on taxpayer money, but only for specified major newspapers and TV stations. They are given special press conferences and information. This way of doing things is problematic.

Narrator: These press clubs routinely exclude freelance journalists—or anyone else who brings perspectives considered to be “too independent”.

Yu Terasawa: The officials want only convenient news broadcast to the people, but as for freelance journalists who relate inconvenient news, they want to keep us out of the system.

Narrator: Finally, Yu Terasawa asserts that the press club system contributes heavily to the colorless flavor of the major Japanese media— who tend to report the same stories in the same ways.

Yu Terasawa: Their offices are right there in government buildings. That’s where the big media journalists are working each day. They just look at the papers handed out by the officials and say, “Ah, so that’s our story for today”—that’s what they report. Freelancers like me can’t really call that news reporting. Rather, they are like some PR arm for the government officials. So what results is not journalism, but declarations from officials.

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