NSK News Bulletin May 2013
Huffington Post Founder Foresees Arrival of ‘Golden Age’ of Journalism
Arianna Huffington, founder of the Huffington Post online news website, was in Tokyo to observe the launch on May 7 of the Japanese version of the Huffington Post.
Huffington, president and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post Media Group, attended the conference at the Japan National Press Club on May 8. During the press conference, she expressed high expectations on the just-launched Huffington Post Japan. She also said that the conversion of tradition and new media would usher in the “golden age” of journalism.
The Huffington Post Japan website is operated by a new company established in association with the Asahi Shimbun. Huffington told the press conference that the Asahi has credibility as a media organization with its great understanding of Japanese culture, whereas Huffington Post brings digital technology and editorial knowhow, making a nice conversion of traditional and new media.
Asked how to ensure the quality of information in the portal site where people other than professional journalists are allowed to contribute, Huffington said, “Our editors will evaluate and decide as a gate keeper to oversee the quality management. The questions of defamation, slanders and ‘heavy fire’ are the instances that demonstrate the immaturity and the Internet must become an adult, she said.
At present, about 800 reporters, editors and engineers at the Huffington Post Media Group are engaging in the operation of the group’s websites on a global scale. The group depends on revenues from advertisers but a high wall is erected between its editorial and management teams and the group has established a successful business model in which profits are accrued while journalism is safeguarded.
According to the founder, the Huffington Post plans to open its sister website in Germany and Brazil, following the launch of the Japanese edition.
In a related development, Prime Minister Shintaro Abe will become a regular contributor to the Japanese edition as a blogger. Abe accepted Huffington’s request during her courtesy call on Abe on June 9.
Kyodo, NHK, Mainichi to Open Bureaus in Yangon, Myanmar
The Myanmar government of reform-oriented President Thein Sein has approved the opening of a bureau or an office in Yangon for three Japanese media organizations one after another since March.
The three media organizations are Kyodo News, the Japan Broadcasting Corporation (NHK and the Mainichi Shimbun, which show enthusiasm for coverage of Myanmar’s process of democratization and economic development. Meanwhile, there remain some worries about the poor infrastructure, including the Internet connection, and security problems, which might arise in the event of worsening political situation.
Kyodo News announced on March 26 the opening of its bureau in Yangon. “It is of great significance for Kyodo News to open a bureau in Myanmar so that we could deliver the first-instance information to Japanese readers, especially businesses, a Kyodo official said. The bureau will commence operation with the stationing of the bureau chief and some locally hired staffers, whenever preparations are ready.
NHK won the Myanmar authority’s permission on April 1 to open its office in Yangon. NHK plans to station at least one Japanese correspondent on a steady basis, together with two locally hired staffers. To date, Japanese reporters have been issued with a single-entry visa, which is valid only for a short period of time. However, the Myanmar government has notified NHK that it would issue a multiple-entry visa, valid for about six months, for up to four persons. The four NHK employees will be stationed in the Myanmar office on rotation, while additional reporters will be mobilized from the adjacent countries or from Japan, if necessity should arise, according to NHK.
Meanwhile, the Mainichi Shimbun won the approval on April 5 to open its bureau in Yangon. A Mainichi official said that the opening of the Yangon office would help enrich the coverage of news in that country, which has been so far sustained by short-term visits by correspondents stationed in the neighboring countries. The bureau will start operation in late June with the bureau chief and a locally hired staffer. For the time being, the bureau chief will be served concurrently by the chief of the General Asian Headquarters in Bangkok, Thailand.
Myanmar is rapidly lifting regulations on media activities, but there remains some uncertainty and uneasiness. At present, reporters are allowed t engage in news-gathering activities without restrictions, but there could emerge backlashes anytime. Poor infrastructure is another worry. NHK’s Yangon office is located in an office building, which is also housed by some Japanese companies. The office is also furnished with a standby electric generator to prepare for power supply disruption. Yet, the Internet connection is still unstable.
The Thein Sein government is boasting its political and economic reforms, but is short of restoring full-fledged liberalization, as shown by the ban on the media’s access to the military.
Kyodo News to Distribute News Photos of Getty Images
Kyodo News announced on April 18 that it has reached an agreement with Getty Images Japan to distribute news photos of the American photo agency. Kyodo’s subscriber media organizations will thereby have an access to all the Getty’s news photos via Kyodo.
Getty Images is known for its rich coverage of sports and entertainment events. A Kyodo official said that the partnership with Getty would broaden the range of options for its subscribers to choose the photos at such big sports events as the Olympic Games.
Getty Images, founded in 1995, is headquartered in Seattle. It is distributing still photos and video footages primarily to media organizations and advertising agencies all over the world.