[James] Creelman, a Canadian by birth, had reported the Japanese invasion of Manchuria and the capture of Port Arthur, perhaps his most famous piece. It is a textbook sample of vivid, concise reporting, forced on Creelman by communication difficulties. He was later able to elaborate his short cable, but the first account, on December 11, 1894, stands on its own.
The Japanese troops entered Port Arthur on November 21 and massacred practically the entire population in cold blood. The defenseless and unarmed inhabitants were butchered in their houses and their bodies were unspeakably mutilated. There was an unrestrained reign of murder which continued for three days. The whole town was plundered with appalling atrocities. It was the first stain upon Japanese civilisation. The Japanese in this instance relapsed into barbarism. All pretense that circumstances justified the atrocities are false.
The civilized world will be horrified by the details. The foreign correspondents, horrified by the spectacle, left the army in a body. The Japanese had offered Creelman a bribe to tone down his story, but he refused it. American public opinion, until then friendly to Japan, changed overnight.
Daily Archives: 26 May 2005
Journalist Richard Halloran spent 10 days in Japan talking to government officials, diplomats, business executives, military officers, scholars, journalists, and private citizens, and came away with a conclusion that really should surprise no one at all. If the recent anti-Japanese protests in China and South Korea were intended to influence Japanese attitudes and behavior, he notes in this article in the Japan Times, they succeeded—by hardening Japanese attitudes against both those countries.
Halloran also notes:
The Chinese rallies, during which the police did not intervene, were intended to drive a wedge between Japan and the U.S. Instead, said another Japanese diplomat: “We must do everything we can to strengthen our alliance with the United States.”
China’s actions were intended to dissuade Japan from building up its armed forces and becoming a “normal nation.” Instead, they have accelerated moves to revise the famed Article 9 of the Constitution, the “no-war clause” that forbids Japan from using military power.
For the last three years, the Japanese economy has been growing faster than at any time since the “bubble” of the late 1980s. Recovery started in 2002, slowed last year, and is on track again this year. Consumer spending is strong; employment conditions are improving throughout the economy. Toyota recently announced a plan to hire more than 3,000 people, the first time in 14 years that it has hired that many new employees.
Trade with China is one reason that the news out of Japan these days is positive. Last year China displaced the United States as Japan’s major trading partner. Japan has the advantage over U.S. and European manufacturers of proximity to the booming Chinese market. Another reason is that Japan has finally found the right set of policies to clean up its banking mess….
So Japan is back, this time with China, another country whose institutions are different from ours. Despite recent anti-Japanese riots, the future will bring China and Japan closer: Japan has technology; China has resources and skilled labor. As its Asian ties keep spreading (most recently to India), Japan has less incentive to placate American interests, whether in Washington or on Wall Street.
The media is an industry; but their business is not to report news. The industry needs a captive audience to beat the bottom line. The product is advertisement.
This is not a right or wrong. It’s just a business concept for moving merchandise, and every profession or industry has one. Doctors, soldiers, preachers, lawyers, journalists: everyone needs to earn a living. Only a reclusive holy man might argue otherwise, but most holy men also expect alms.
There are probably many reasons why violent acts get more attention than do acts of kindness. All of these reasons fit somewhere under the heading of human nature. Any person rummaging around in his or her own head while asking the simple question, “What do I find interesting?” is bound to find a few garish relics. Sex and someone else’s bad news will sell.
Finding or generating news can be costly. A good businessperson buys cheap, sells high. These points are obvious, but less conspicuous is how the media squeezes news cheaply from Iraq….
From a media executive’s perspective, where the CFO can occupy the same tier on the organizational chart as the managing editor, the math is easy: send a dozen journalists to Iraq, or hire one cheaply to live in Baghdad. The media gets a bargain rate on instant credibility from their “embedded journalist in the heart of the Sunni Triangle,” who spends a few minutes a day paraphrasing media releases, then heads downstairs for a beer at the hotel bar.