Local Media and Disaster Reporting in Japan

Authored by: Florian Meissner , Jun Tsukada

The Routledge Companion to Local Media and Journalism

Print publication date:  April  2020
Online publication date:  April  2020

Print ISBN: 9780815375364
eBook ISBN: 9781351239943
Adobe ISBN:


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Japan has a long history of devastating disasters, but it also has a strong tradition of media organizations striving to contribute to resilience. The local media play a crucial role in this process as they provide important micro-level information related to survivors, lifeline services, and reconstruction, to mention but a few aspects. While studies on disaster reporting in ‘Western’ countries have often emphasized the strict news-value orientation and short attention span of media, Japanese literature largely focuses on how reporting contributes to mitigating the disaster and provides affected publics with vital information. This seems to be the case especially on the local level where media organizations often take on the perspective of the victims and continue reporting on a long-term basis. The professional role journalists adopt in this context, studies have found, is quite different from that of the idealized Western-type ‘detached watchdog’. Instead, reporters try to directly support affected citizens, building on close-knit social networks. Several examples of this kind of reporting could be witnessed during the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster of 2011. Concerning the nuclear crisis, however, local TV stations were criticized for simply relaying official announcements while affected citizens were left in an informational vacuum.

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