"The ethic of the journalist is to recognize one’s prejudices, biases, and avoid getting them to print." This is a famous quote spoken by American journalist Walter Cronkite. Media conveys information about society to the public, and also monitor the world at the same time. However, is the media industry performing these functions well in today’s society? When the role of a spokesperson, who speaks for the people, and an accuser, who draws out injustice, is calling out problems in the media at the same time, how can people have faith in reports on the media? True media ethics of this era begin now.
“I go up the mountain to get down.”
- Kyoichiro Anzai
On August 12, 1985, the world's largest aircraft accident occurred in Gunma Prefecture, Japan. Kazumasa Yuuki, who is working at the North Kanto Times, a local newspaper in Gunma Prefecture, is scheduled to climb the rock wall Tsuitateiwa on Mount Tanigawadake along with his colleague Kyichiro Anzai. However, the airplane case changed all that. Yuuki was placed in charge of the Japan Airlines case and as such, he was unable to keep his appointment with Anzai. Anzai, however, also did not make the climb. He was found collapsed in the entertainment district of Jotomachi at the time of the scheduled appointment with Yuuki. Yuuki was curious about his friend, but he had a lot of work to do. Yuuki's subordinate staff reporters joined him on assignment, and they went to Mount Osutaka, where the plane crash had occurred. They wrote an article about the accident, but it was not published in the newspaper because they failed to meet the editor’s deadline. Yuuki started to feel overcome with guilt and agreed to print other articles as headline news instead of the aircraft accident. The next day, Yuuki met with the bereaved family of the Japan Airlines accident who had come to the North Kanto Times to ask for information because the North Kanto Times was the regional newspaper. It was at this moment Yuuki realized the reason the local newspaper existed and changed the top article in the day’s paper to the Japan Airlines accident. The next day, Yuuki was able to publish the article about the plane crash, and the story was to be exclusive to the North Kanto Times. However, he continued to worry about whether he had explored all reasons for the crash and if the article was inaccurate. Will Yuuki be able to uncover the true reason for the plane crash and be able to figure out the reason why his friend Anzai hadn’t gone up the mountain?
Seventeen tells the story of a fictional newspaper covering an actual airplane crash, ‘Japan Airlines Flight 123’. The content of the novel brings up a sense of urgency and realism among readers because much of the story is based on the journalistic experiences of the writer Hideo Yokoyama. The novel begins with present-day Yuuki, who plans to climb Tsuitateiwa, and then flashbacks to Yuuki when he was in charge of the Japan Airlines case. As general manager of the newspaper, Yuuki was challenged by media ethics including the role of a local newspaper, the conflict between presenting a scoop and the actual truth, and the gravity of people’s life. Readers of this novel will have the opportunity to ponder true media ethics through Yuuki's thoughts and situations. In addition, the detailed descriptions of the climbing of Tsuitateiwa add to a sense of reality. As Yuuki climbs the rock wall, he reflects on his friend Anzai's words, “I go up the mountain to get down.” This sentence, which is repeated frequently throughout the entire novel, applies to both the mountain climbing and life as a whole. Media ethics, family problems, and power control within the newspaper company make the novel more exciting.
"Can you convince yourself for that reason? Can you live like that? Is it okay with this?"
<The Journalist (2019)>
One day, Yoshioka Erika, a journalist for Toto Newspaper, receives a university establishment plan approved by Japan's Cabinet Office. She investigates the situation for corruption, but the informant of the plan wishes to remain anonymous, so the plan is shroud in mystery. The plan documents also contain a strange image of a sheep, making the investigation difficult. Sugihara, a staff employed at the Cabinet Intelligence and Research Office and soon-to-be a father, is distraught by the order from his superiors to leak the personal information of victims from a scandal case. Sugihara schedules a meeting with Kanzaki, his former boss, and current Cabinet Office minister. They have dinner, but soon after their meeting, Kanzaki commits suicide. Sugihara discovers Kanzaki was the former head of a university corruption scandal. Yoshioka, on the other hand, is still trying to unravel the university plan for corruption. Yoshioka surmises that the sender of the document is Kanzaki. She decides to travel to his home and finds a book called Dugway Sheep Incident, which details a biological and chemical weapon 1968 U.S. experiment in Dugway. Sugihara continues with his investigation of corruption and discovers the true reason for establishing the university is for military purposes. What choice will Sugihara make?
The film is based on the original novel of the same title, The Journalist. The non-fiction book is written by Mochizuki Isoko, who was a reporter at the Tokyo Web. Isoko covered a scandal involving the foundation of Kake private school under the Abe administration in 2017. The movie reveals the reality of the current regime in Japanese society. The movie centers on the public and accusations of fake news and the government hiring of civilian inspections. At the start of the movie, the government releases the identity of a sexual crime victim, an ordinary woman, as well as the identity of the informant Kanzaki. The government also sends Yoshioka's personal information to the newspaper as a way of threatening her. Officials in the country are working to contain the situation and the regime, but they do not show care for the nation’s people or the nation itself. Some on the production team claim the film is fictitious. However, the sexual assault of a journalist close to Abe and the death of an official in charge of Kake Academy actually occurred. The film reminds audiences of the seriousness of political corruption, not just in Japan, but in Korea, too. Movie <The Journalist> won an Academy Award for Best Picture at the 43rd Japan Academy Awards, and the main actors in the film took home Best Female Actor and Best Male Actor awards. This reporter recommends this film to moviegoers who are interested in true media ethics in society. The film will open viewers’ eyes and minds to the importance of media ethics because of a thrilling plot, cinematic quality, and excellent acting performances.
Ahn Ha Yura / Culture Section Editor
Jung Kim Hyeseung / Society Section Editor