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Sunday, Nov. 30, 2003

Sensational reporting puts media in spotlight: panelists

Staff writer

OSAKA -- As profits and audiences shrink, the media are under increasing pressure to compete for readers and viewers, which has led to a growing number of human rights abuses that have fueled a public backlash.

At a symposium in Osaka on Saturday titled "Human Rights and Reporting," about 40 media insiders, lawyers, university professors and students gathered to discuss the backlash and other problems related to journalistic practices in Japan, as well as steps the media itself is taking to prevent human rights abuses.

Much of the discussion focused on the way television journalists report the news.

Shiro Matsuda, a former Yomiuri Television reporter who is now with the Broadcasting Ethics & Program Improvement Organization, which was created in July to monitor television programs, said broadcast journalism faces a number of issues that are different from print media when considering human rights issues.

"A recent trend among private broadcasters has been to buy 'packaged news' reports from outside producers," Matsuda said. "This saves the broadcasters money, because they don't have to pay the expenses of their own reporters and editors.

"But they only see the final product and have no idea how the news piece was filmed and edited. Thus, they can't defend themselves as easily if somebody charges that the news program violated somebody's human rights."

Panelists were divided on the issue of whether or not the Japanese media reports fairly on crimes committed by foreigners, or incidents abroad involving Japanese.

When it was pointed out that many view Japanese media reports of a rising foreign crime rate as sensationalized, Tsutomu Nomura, a local lawyer, agreed there are problems.

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The Japan Times

Article 5 of 12 in National news

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