STUDENT VOICE: Distrust of media not just US problem

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By Yuka Yokozeki

Just as Americans lost faith in the news, as a Japanese, I feel that news media lose credibility throughout society in the same way. In Japan, media are ordinally called “Mass-Comi” (“Comi” is an abbreviation of Communication), but nowadays, it is called “Mass-Gomi” (“Gomi” means Garbage) as an internet slung. Conventional media, in particular, are not as effective as they used to be in disseminating information due to the rise of social media and the complicated relationship with the government.

In regard to the decline in the credibility of the news media, I think it is the most critical to establish a cordial, independent relationship between the media and government. They must keep a respectful distance mutually, since if the two are too close or too far apart, problems could occur. Let’s look at an example of a conflict between media and government in Japan.

In 2017, Sanae Takaichi, Japan’s Minister for Internal Affairs and Communications, mentioned the possibility that television stations could be shut down if they were deemed to repeatedly broadcast without political impartiality. Of course, impartiality must be guaranteed, however, a number of journalists criticized her statements in that she violated freedom of the press and the public’s “right to know”.

In addition, another issue is the criterion of impartiality. In Japanese Broadcasting Law, political impartiality is to be determined by the Minister of Internal Affairs and Communication, and criterion are not defined, which means one politician can subjectively change the broadcasting. I believe that a third-party, non-governmental organization is required to monitor and stipulate the criterion of judgement and maintain impartiality.

On the other hand, too much proximity between them also stirs up distrust from the public because they might suspect corruption and the control of speech by the government, and it would be impossible to prove the independence of media.

In terms of “Objectivity”, I think diversity at all levels; genders, races, religions, ages in the news agency would be important. The diversity would help prevent biased articles or broadcasts in the event of censorship, as well as nourish the journalist’s own values and insights.

The purpose of media as a business is to increase its viewers and make money by disseminating information, and it seems that viewers tend not to be interested in articles or broadcasts that only lay out the facts. Thus, the media should not complicit in one ideology, but rather expose the issues from as many angles as possible.