Japan from the inside out

AP screws up Japan coverage again

Posted by ampontan on Thursday, May 17, 2007

YOU MIGHT HAVE HEARD by now that Japan’s first experiment with a drop box for unwanted babies, installed at the Jikei Hospital in Kumamoto City, got an unexpected visitor on its first day of service. The drop box was installed to receive newborn infants, but the first child the hospital received is thought to be three years old. His father brought him there just hours after the service began.

The reason I bring this up is not to discuss the pros and cons of the issue itself–I can see the merits of both the pro and con positions–but rather to show how the supposedly elite AP can’t even report a simple story in Japan without making the mistakes of an ignoramus.

Here’s their report, which I found on the Philadelphia Daily News website. This is some of what they say:

The boy, who was in good health, reportedly said he was left by his father, who was seen holding the youngster’s hand as they approached the hospital. They apparently rode Japan’s bullet train to Kumamoto, but it was unclear where they lived.

  • It is not possible to ride a bullet train to Kumamoto City, which does not yet have bullet train service. The main shinkansen line ends in Fukuoka City. The first leg of the Kyushu shinkansen operates from Yatsushiro in southern Kumamoto Prefecture to Kagoshima City. Full Kyushu service is not slated to begin until the next decade.
  • Kyodo filed a report before this AP report, and it stated that the boy told the hospital staff he was from Fukuoka.

Is it too much to expect the AP to perform even a minimal amount of research before writing an article? Or that they assign a reporter to write about Japan who knows a little about the country?

I’ll say it again: If what you know about Japan comes from what you read in the Western press, then everything you know is wrong.

Postscript: Try this article for a description of the service on the day it opened last week.

5 Responses to “AP screws up Japan coverage again”

  1. David said

    I’ve written a few posts on the “baby-hatch” at my own blog, so I won’t debate the pros and cons here… But while reading about the box, (from various news sources) I have noticed the types of mistakes you mentioned, such as AP claiming no one knew where the boy came from, when it had already been reported that he was from Fukuoka.

    It is amazing just how little research seems to be done on some of AP’s stories concerning Japan. You’d think that they would put more professionalism and accuracy when reporting on stories from the world’s second biggest economy.

    “If what you know about Japan comes from what you read in the Western press, then everything you know is wrong.”

    You may very well be right on this one.


  2. Ken said

    I read this and thought WTF…? Those two items glared out at me, and on the second one I wondered if it had been written and filed before Kyodo got theirs out. I don’t know if there’s anyway to know for sure.

    Maybe they just call every train in Japan a bullet train. The lack of fact-checking, or having someone in the pipeline aware enough about Japan, is pretty sad. Nice post.

  3. Jon said

    Of course this shows how foreign news no little about another country such as Japan. Nut you konw, news papers, TV news, the AP, etc. often have mistakes in any story they do, even local stories.

    People should always be wary of what they read or hear in the news and should always try to get their news or information from a variety of sources.

    On a side note but kind of similar, everyone should be wary of any information they get from Wikipedia. Do not ever rely solely on the information you find in Wikipedia as it is possible it is wrong or missleading.

  4. ampontan said

    Jon: I make it a rule to never link to Wikipedia for anything. I read recently that even the person who created Wikipedia thinks it’s gotten out of hand.

    Michael Crichton, the best-selling author, gave an interesting speech about the media, which is here:

    Here’s an excerpt:

    “You open the newspaper to an article on some subject you know well…You read the article and see the journalist has absolutely no understanding of either the facts or the issues. Often, the article is so wrong it actually presents the story backwards, reversing cause and effect. I call these the “wet streets cause rain” stories. Paper’s full of them.

    In any case, you read with exasperation or amusement the multiple errors in a story, and then turn the page to national or international affairs, and read as if the rest of the newspaper was somehow more accurate about Palestine than the baloney you just read. You turn the page, and forget what you know.”

    It’s so good, here’s another:

    “Like a bearded nut in robes on the sidewalk proclaiming the end of the world is near, the media is just doing what makes it feel good, not reporting hard facts. We need to start seeing the media as a bearded nut on the sidewalk, shouting out false fears. It’s not sensible to listen to it….We need to start remembering that everybody who said that Y2K wasn’t a real problem was either shouted down, or kept off the air. The same thing is true now of issues like species extinction and global warming. You never hear anyone say it’s not a crisis. I won’t go into it, because it might lead to the use of facts…”

  5. David said

    “I won’t go into it, because it might lead to the use of facts…”

    I may have just found a new line to use during arguments. 😉


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