It’s not your business model that sucks. It’s you that sucks.
– Andrew Breitbart, addressing the media covering a political meeting
READER Aceface sent a link to an article from the February issue of Factia Online. The title, roughly translated, is The Tokyo Bureaus of the Overseas Media: A lineup of third raters. Here it is in English. Be advised that this is a translation for the purpose of providing information. Factia is solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.
To hear the Tokyo correspondents of the overseas media tell it, there is no more degraded journalism than that produced by the Japanese media. But what about those reporters from the overseas media? As the documents that surfaced in Wikileaks demonstrate, they’ve given up their function of monitoring authority. The extent to which they’ve all become mere carrier pigeons is just a matter of degree.
Disbelief rippled through Nintendo’s investor relations office at about 2:30 on the afternoon of 29 September last year. The company’s stock, which had firmed slightly at around JPY 24,500, suddenly jumped to near JPY 25,000, then plunged again just before the close of trading.
The reason for the volatility was a report from the American news agency Bloomberg that the company’s Nintendo 3DS, their newest handheld gaming device and a product critical for their earnings recovery, would go on sale for JPY 18,000 on 28 October. The Nintendo stock reacted, as it had been expected the new game would not be ready in time for the yearend season.
Nintendo executives denied the story at a Makuhari game show the same day. Investors started selling, and as if it were on a roller coaster, the price fell to nearly JPY 23,000.
The villain was a group of Bloomberg reporters assigned to breaking stories called the Speed Team. The leader of this team filed the report after mistaking the existing DS package with Super Mario and others for Nintendo’s 3DS.
The Securities and Exchange Surveillance Commission launched an investigation, and Bloomberg deleted the erroneous article with the author’s byline. They then published an article under a different byline stating that Nintendo had delayed the sale of the 3DS, and hung it on the peg of Nintendo’s downgrade of their results forecast announced after the Tokyo Stock Exchange closed.
Bloomberg did it again a week later, on 6 October. They reported that the Financial Services Agency was considering more rigorous capital requirements for megabanks in Japan only. That touched off a plunge not only in bank stocks, but the market as a whole. The Financial Services Agency, however, denied the story. What happened was that the Bloomberg reporter had a quick, casual conversation with a Diet member, became too eager for a scoop, and got carried away.
It’s the same story with the New York Times, whose reporters don’t even understand the fundamentals. A female reporter in their Tokyo bureau who covered last year’s story on the Toyota recall became angry at an out of order coffee machine in Toyota headquarters and tweeted “Toyota sucks”. That’s the behavior of a bratty delinquent.
The Tokyo bureau of the Wall Street Journal is criticized for what appears to be conflicts of interest. They have a rule that reporters cannot cover organizations at which a spouse or other close relative is employed. The husbands of two of the bureau’s female reporters are executives at Morgan Stanley, a leading American financial services company. The husband of a deputy bureau chief is a banker in Hong Kong. The husband of another is the chief administrative officer of the Tokyo branch of Morgan Stanley. She writes stories on finance, and Morgan Stanley’s competitors complain there’s no guarantee her articles will be impartial.
The problems are not exclusively those of American-affiliated outlets. A Japan-U.S. financial symposium was held last October in Hakone with financial experts from both countries. What puzzled participants was that a reporter for The Economist, who was rumored to have left the company, attended with name cards identifying that reporter as a special business and financial correspondent for the magazine. A different Economist reporter with the same title was in Tokyo at the time. Those in attendance who were interviewed wondered which one was legitimate.
Also attending was a female reporter whose father is a well-known economist. Known as a troublemaker who sued The Economist, she claimed the company was at fault because she developed a neurosis as a result of a dispute with the magazine’s editorial board. The reporter is said to be on sabbatical, but the magazine allows her to walk around with the company’s name cards after leaving their employ, just to cover up the stench.
The Financial Times, another British publication, is no better. They’re known for having been critical of Goldman Sachs, but when Goldman purchased advertising for a book review event, the criticism was suddenly softened. Not a sound is heard from their former bureau chief, who wrote a book about the bankruptcy of the Long-Term Credit Bank of Japan.
The Japanese media is second rate? They’re the ones who are intolerable prigs with preconceived notions and vanilla coverage. How long do they think what they really are will remain hidden? The overseas media, and the reporters at their Tokyo bureaus in particular, are unquestionably third rate. They’re the ones who suck.
Chin-don is my preference for infotainment delivered by a vehicle for advertising. Here’s the face-off for the championship in last year’s national chin-don competition in Toyama. They’re pretending to advertise a stomach remedy. The second team won.
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