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2011年10月16日 (日)

社説:新聞週間 震災と向き合い続ける

(Mainichi Japan) October 15, 2011
Editorial: Reflecting on the relation between the media and the March 11 disasters
社説:新聞週間 震災と向き合い続ける

Mainichi Shimbun photographer Koichiro Tezuka happened to be on a company helicopter near the coast of Miyagi Prefecture when the massive tsunami hit the area on March 11.

He recalls losing himself in his work as, aboard a company helicopter, he snapped photographs of ravaging waters that overcame a windbreak forest and engulfed residents' houses one after another.

His photos of the tsunami, dispatched to the world through the Kyodo News service, were run by 50 domestic newspapers and around 400 overseas ones, transmitting the impact of the disasters to the world.

Tezuka won a Japan Newspaper Publishers & Editors Association award for his exclusive photos.

As an eyewitness, he shared the reality he saw in front of him, which is the basis of news reporting.

The March 11 quake, unprecedented tsunami damage and crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant tested the raison d'etre of news organizations including newspapers.

The Mainichi Shimbun also won a Japan Congress of Journalists prize for articles written by reporters who visited disaster-hit areas and interviewed people there to find out whether the disaster preparations and responses of those areas had been enough.

Clarifying society's problems and showing lessons learned to the public is one important duty of the media.

We were happy that, when electricity was cut and electronic communication means were paralyzed immediately after the disasters, newspapers delivered to evacuation shelters were able to serve as vital sources of information.  震災直後、電気の供給が止まり、通信機能がまひした。そのような中、避難所に届けられた新聞が被災者の重要な情報源として役に立ったのはうれしい。

We have great respect for local newspaper publishers that continued to turn out newspapers even after being hit themselves by the earthquake and tsunami.

The Sendai-based Kahoku Shimpo, the Iwate Nippo headquartered in Iwate Prefecture, and the Ibaraki Shimbun in Ibaraki Prefecture are all local newspaper publishers that lost their electricity.

Nevertheless, they continued to create and release their papers with the help of other paper publishers who, under mutual agreement to assist each other during disasters, handled page design and printing for them.

Meanwhile, the Ishinomaki Hibi Shimbun, based in Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, even released handwritten newspapers for several days, posting them up at evacuation shelters, while its printing press was offline from lack of electricity.

Some of those hand-written papers are on display at Newseum, a news museum in Washington.

The Ishinomaki Hibi Shimbun won a special prize for the papers at the latest general assembly of the International Press Institute.

That kind of journalistic spirit sets an example for us.

The March 11 disasters reminded us how important detailed information on people's needs and well-being is in times of disaster.

Helpers need to know what supplies are in short supply and what kind of assistance survivors need.

The Mainichi Shimbun inserted a page in its morning editions called "Kibo Shimbun" (hope newspaper) that provides information on the disaster areas in an attempt to match help from the rest of Japan to disaster-area needs.

Many traditional media organizations, such as newspaper companies and TV broadcasters, also notably tried to widely disseminate such information via the Internet, including Twitter.

Traditional media choosing to coexist with social media networks appears to be a trend of the times.

Meanwhile, the crisis-hit nuclear power plant is still not under control.

With even experts divided over what damage could be caused by the leaking radiation, for example, media outlets have no choice but to rely on trial and error as they try to process the information and relay it in an easily understandable form.

The slogan of the annual week-long Newspaper Week that began on Oct. 15 is "Ue o Muku Chikara o Kureta Kiji ga Aru" ("There is an article that gave me courage").
 「上を向く 力をくれた 記事がある」。

We want to dispatch not only news about dangers and problems, but also encouraging news that can contribute to the rebuilding of disaster-hit areas and survivors' lives.

毎日新聞 2011年10月15日 東京朝刊


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