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2013年10月17日 (木)

新聞週間 真実を伝える役割これからも

The Yomiuri Shimbun October 17, 2013
Newspapers’ mission to tell the truth becoming ever more important
新聞週間 真実を伝える役割これからも(10月16日付・読売社説)

The duty of newspapers is to spread the truth, a task essential for honoring the people’s right to know. Sincerely taking this obligation to heart once again, we wish to continue our efforts to write articles that offer analyses from various viewpoints regarding daily events and affairs.

Newspaper Week started Tuesday. This year’s slogan for the week is “Itsuno-himo Shinjitsu-ni Mukiau Kiji-ga Aru” (Every day, there are news stories that pursue the facts). This catchphrase was written by a 17-year-old high school girl.
 新聞週間が始まった。今年の代表標語は「いつの日も 真実に 向き合う記事がある」だ。17歳の女子高校生の作品である。

Some reports by newspapers and other news organizations about the Great East Japan Earthquake in March 2011 drew criticism for their stance on the disaster. Critics said the media did not provide a full picture of the unprecedented calamity. Two years and seven months after the catastrophe, the media is still the subject of argument regarding how they should gather and report the news.

A particularly important task facing the media is to think about how to report the current situation in Fukushima Prefecture, where a nuclear disaster struck in the wake of the quake-triggered tsunami. A large number of residents have been forced to evacuate for extended periods. Some evacuees have complained that giving interviews to the media has done little to improve the situation.

Residents in disaster-hit areas face grave uncertainties about the future of their lives. With this in mind, the media must report news in a manner that would help rehabilitate these areas. This duty could be fulfilled, for example, through articles that provide food for thought about how to make steady progress in decontaminating disaster-affected areas and paying compensation to stricken people for their difficulties, a task that would help them get their lives back on the road to reconstruction.

Still the most trusted source

According to a Yomiuri Shimbun survey taken in late September, 86 percent of respondents said newspaper reports can be trusted, an increase of six percentage points from a similar poll conducted a year earlier. The figure was comparable to a level recorded before the great earthquake.

We feel the recovery of trust in newspapers indicates that the public granted the press renewed credit for its efforts to provide readers with accurate information based on news-gathering activities. Undoubtedly, browsing through Internet websites can afford anyone easy access to a huge amount of information. However, a considerable chunk of information available online is open to dispute over its credibility.

The latest Yomiuri survey included a multiple-response questionnaire regarding which medium respondents felt to be trustworthy in July’s House of Councillors election, for which the legal ban on Net-based campaigning was lifted. Only 2 percent of respondents cited such social media as Twitter and Facebook.

This compared with 59 percent for newspapers. The figure indicated the degree to which voters trust newspapers when it comes to election reporting.

A sizable 89 percent of those surveyed said newspapers would be needed in the future, too. We believe this figure shows readers greatly count on newspapers as a means of credible news reporting.

The newspaper industry has insisted the consumption tax rate for newspapers be set at a lower level than that to be imposed on other goods and services when the current 5 percent rate is increased. In some respects, newspapers can be regarded as public property.

Earlier, the Japan Newspapers Publishers and Editors Association asked a panel of experts to advance opinions about the issue. The committee put together a report that said, “Whether a reduced tax rate is applied [to newspapers] is a matter related to Japanese culture and the future of democratic government.”

Newspapers are tasked with uncovering the truth behind possible irregularities committed by the national and local governments while also pressing them to rectify any problems that emerge.

We are determined to live up to this obligation by improving the quality of our daily news gathering and reporting.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Oct. 16, 2013)
(2013年10月16日01時32分  読売新聞)


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