Sep 24, 2014-
The following is a translation of the Henshu Techo column from The Yomiuri Shimbun’s Sept. 13 issue.
A ship is sinking. The captain stays on the bridge until the last moment. Based on this situation, two different kinds of news articles could be written, said Naoyoshi Horikawa, a psychologist, in his book “Kotoba no Majutsu” (Sorcery of words).
One potential headline for the article is “Captain pays no heed to drowning passengers.” Another is “Captain fulfills duties to last.”
This example illustrates what a frightening business news reporting is. In-depth investigation and clear, unclouded eyes that can look at facts are essential for a journalist to report the truth. Unfortunately, however, one particular newspaper apparently lacks both traits. I am referring to The Asahi Shimbun, which recently admitted errors in its reporting and apologized for it. The daily said in its article on the “Yoshida file”—based on records of interviews with the late Masao Yoshida, who was the manager of Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant—that 90 percent of workers at the plant withdrew from their posts against the manager’s order at the time of the nuclear accident.
This article, which distorted facts and slandered the reputations of Japanese people, has similarities to another instance of erroneous reporting by the Asahi on the so-called comfort women issue. Some people must have tilted their heads, wondering whether the Asahi is poised to bring disgrace to Japanese people whenever the opportunity presents itself. It is easy to delete a published article. However, it won’t be so easy to delete public misunderstanding that the Asahi might dislike or even hate the people of Japan.
Yes, I’ve mentioned “in-depth investigation” and “clear, unclouded eyes” are essential in reporting. I am fully aware that my words could come back to me if I lose my focus even a little. The Asahi has served as such a grave lesson.
Published: 25-09-2014 09:33