Tuesday, February 3, 2015

@KenjiGoto -> #IAmKenji: "Journalism cannot exist in Japan"

 Mr. Goto.

I'm going to try to accurately translate this 2011 tweet from Kenji Goto:
As far as journalism goes, it is better to give up already on comparisons with Europe and the US. It is only emptiness, and most of all, pointless. It is the problem of each individual who gets information. I already understood before 3/11 [date of earthquake] that journalism cannot exist in Japan, and the low status of freelancers. I think that [I, you] should believe that the current results could not have been altered.


This reminds me of my own 2014 on-camera comment to Channel 2's Yigal Mosko--[I paraphrase] "There are no whistleblowers in Japan. There is no such word as 'whistleblower.'" This was almost true--as a general rule, it seems to be true. But there are execptions.

Truth-telling is a common denominator between strong journalists and strong whistleblowers. We share certain kinds of risks in varying degrees. Journalists are really braver. I have tried a little to reveal truths that the public is mainly indifferent to, but that affect their well being and safety. Among many others, I add my gratitude to the late Goto-san for his service to humanity in revealing far more profound truths at great personal risk.

In this interview with Yigal, I tried to express that almost no one in Japan is really free to tell the truth in opposition to their own organization's overall goals. And--in general--there are some exceptions among people who operate independent of organizations--inasmuch as Japanese reporters are considered appendages of the organizations they're reporting on, they have no tradition of adversarial reporting, and that is the essence of journalism. So they report the news that their sources want them to report. Kenji Goto seems to be saying that what they do is not journalism. But he was a great journalist. I hope they learn from him.

Meanwhile, after I have tried to tell the story of Toyota's misdeeds, I notice that the company seems to expect that US journalists will fall into line and support its views. They are correct, most of the time. But not all of the time.

Thanks to Phil, Mitch, Paul, some others, and a few intrepid Davids for brazenly not meeting Toyota's expectations, and, here in Israel, Asher, Yigal, Lazar, and the TLV1 and i24 staffs. I wish I had a Japanese journalist to thank.

*Thanks to NYT reporter Martin Fackler for raising this tweet from the dead.