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CPJ blog: Freelancer Hiro Ugaya on covering Japan's crisis

http://www.cpj.org/blog/2011/04/freelancer-hiro-ugaya-on-covering-the-japanese-ear-1.php

“I financed myself and started for the disaster area without any offer from a media outlet, because I thought I would be too late if I waited for a media outlet offer or contract. In visiting the scene, “the sooner, the better” is the golden rule of emergency news coverage.

Fortunately, after I started opening my photos of disaster area on Facebook, many readers have been donating money through PayPal and bank transfer to me. By now, my field research expenses have been paid by the donations. It is a very rare and precious instance that I, at least, have never heard of before.
I financed myself and started for the disaster area without any offer from a media outlet, because I thought I would be too late if I waited for a media outlet offer or contract. In visiting the scene, “the sooner, the better” is the golden rule of emergency news coverage.

Fortunately, after I started opening my photos of disaster area on Facebook, many readers have been donating money through PayPal and bank transfer to me. By now, my field research expenses have been paid by the donations. It is a very rare and precious instance that I, at least, have never heard of before.

I am still highly concerned about radiation and aftershocks, even while I am in Tokyo. When I was in the disaster areas, I was frightened. Wave barriers were found crashed and gone. If a second hit had come, I would have been one of the victims.

I saw no other members of the press. The small fishing village named Noda Mura in Iwate Prefecture, where I spent three days, had never received media attention except for one or two short articles in local newspapers. No national papers or TV stations had visited the village, not to mention foreign press, presumably because the damage of the village was relatively “small.” But I contacted some local people thorough Twitter and learned that half of the village was wiped out. Checking on Internet websites, I found out 38 people were killed in the tsunami, and 400 lost their homes, out of a population of 4,650. Many people were still suffering.

As usual with the Japanese national and municipal governments, the prime minister’s offices’ release of information was “too little, too late.” I presume the government tried to make the damages sound as minimal as possible, maybe not to cause public panic or simply because they are reluctant to show the failures they have made.
The mainstream media (mostly newspapers and television) fatally lack the mind-set of questioning authority and skeptical thinking. Consequently, they behave like an outsourced government PR division. At the very least, the prime minister’s office press conference should be open for the foreign press and freelancers. The mainstream media are too cooperative with the government and other authorities, such as electric power companies and their lobbyists.

Contrasting mainstream coverage

I saw no other members of the press. The small fishing village named Noda Mura in Iwate Prefecture, where I spent three days, had never received media attention except for one or two short articles in local newspapers. No national papers or TV stations had visited the village, not to mention foreign press, presumably because the damage of the village was relatively “small.” But I contacted some local people thorough Twitter and learned that half of the village was wiped out. Checking on Internet websites, I found out 38 people were killed in the tsunami, and 400 lost their homes, out of a population of 4,650. Many people were still suffering.

As usual with the Japanese national and municipal governments, the prime minister’s offices’ release of information was “too little, too late.” I presume the government tried to make the damages sound as minimal as possible, maybe not to cause public panic or simply because they are reluctant to show the failures they have made.
The mainstream media (mostly newspapers and television) fatally lack the mind-set of questioning authority and skeptical thinking. Consequently, they behave like an outsourced government PR division. At the very least, the prime minister’s office press conference should be open for the foreign press and freelancers. The mainstream media are too cooperative with the government and other authorities, such as electric power companies and their lobbyists."

by teru kuwayama at 2011-04-16 00:58:00 UTC | Bookmark | | Report spam→

slideshow here:

http://www.cpj.org/blog/2011/04/in-japan-scenes-of-devastation.php

by teru kuwayama | 16 Apr 2011 01:04 | New York City, United States | | Report spam→
Hello,

Hoping someone can give me a little insight on some things pertaining to Japan.

If you are freelancing and not registered with the press or acknowledge by the government, are you ever under any pressure not to shoot something? Are the locals open to your presence as a photographer? I am contemplating going to Japan. I know some Japanese people here in New York who have family in Sendai and am very interested in the fate of all these people. Also, how do you support yourself on a basic lever, that is, food, water, etc … I know there are many shortages, and concerns about radiation and radiation contaminated food and water.

If anyone has any comments, I would love to hear about it.

Thanks,

Curt

by Curt | 18 Apr 2011 16:04 | New York, NY, United States | | Report spam→

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Participants

teru kuwayama, I/O teru kuwayama
I/O
New York , United States
Curt, Photographer Curt
Photographer
New York, Ny , United States


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