Sunday, March 08, 2009

Reuters Comes Out on Top on the Nishimatsu Political Financing Scandal

There are two events and one plot line really worth watching: the indictment that is highly likely to come out in two-week’s time and the rash of public opinion polls taking place over the weekend, and the fate of the METI Minister. In the meantime, I’ll see if I can find the time to construct a timeline. It’s easy to forget the improbable series of events that have led to this state of affairs. The Prosecutors Office apparently blundered into this one. I’m reminded of the discovery of penicillin. But for now, a bit of Media Watch:
Minor inaccuracies aside, Linda Sieg for Reuters (here) and here) and Martin Fackler for the New York Times (here) are doing a competent job of covering the unfolding scandal for the freely-accessible, day-to-day, English-language media. Sieg does better though—in fact, I think that she consistently outperforms WaPo and NYT correspondents, the two U.S. newspapers left standing in Japan, at least when it coming to reporting on the fly*—except for the title ”Poll shows most voters want Japan opposition head to quit”. I know that it’s common usage in the United States, but I still have problems with calling “almost 60% (actually 57%)” “most”. Lyndon B. Johnson beat Barry Goldwater 61.1% to 38.4% in the 1964 U.S. Presidential election, but people don’t say that LBJ won “most” of the votes, do they?

* There’s a good case to be made that foreign newspaper correspondents are feature writers, not reporters, which raises the question: Why should general-purpose newspapers maintain expensive bureaus staffed with ex-pats in the first place? I can see a future where The Financial Times and The Wall Street Journal are the only English-language dailies competing with wire services to offer original, day-to-day, worldwide content. The rest will rely on those very wire services for regular reporting and on cheaper local labor and freelance ex-pat writers with reliable track records for feature articles. To put it another way, if you were the NYT desk, wouldn’t you rather receive our fashion tips from, say, néojaponiste W. David Marx than “Vending-Machine” Martin Fackler?

Not that the FT writer appears to be able to rise above her go-to-commentators either here, here, or here.


MTC said...

Okumura-san -

Sorry to break the news to you...but Mure Dickie is a gentleman, not a lady.

Jun Okumura said...

Dickie is a guy? I shoulda figured.