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After Japan Earthquake, a New Local Newspaper by Citizens

Written by Keiko Tanaka On 22 October 2012 @ 9:50 am | No Comments

In Citizen Media, Disaster, East Asia, Education, English, Japan, Japanese, Media & Journalism, Weblog, Youth

The devastating effects of the ‘Great East Japan Earthquake’ (known internationally as the Japan 2011 [1] earthquake) on Otsuchi [2], a small town in Iwate prefecture, are little known. This is partly because their local newspaper closed in 2011 due to damage inflicted by the earthquake, tsunami and fire. Now an online fundraising campaign [3] [ja] has succeeded in gathering 2,496,000 Yen (US$31,000 dollars) to help build a new kind of newspaper.

Dubbed Otsuchi Mirai Shimbun [4] (Otsuchi Future Newspaper), the project reaches out to Otsuchi citizens to teach them skills in reporting, and university students from all over Japan can sign up for internships to help make the newspaper. This unique combination of a hyper-local, hybrid newspaper uses both online and offline communication.

The project was launched in August by the Japan Center of Education for Journalist [5] and non-profit organization, Volunteer Info [6], in cooperation with local groups.

Location of Ōtsuchi. Image from Wikipedia by Maximilian Dörrbecker (CC BY-SA 3.0). [2]

Location of Ōtsuchi. Image from Wikipedia by Maximilian Dörrbecker (CC BY-SA 3.0).

The first issue of Otsuchi Future Newspaper was printed in 250 copies and distributed to local citizens by bike. The content is also available online [7].

The newspaper also offers onsite training experience for both students and citizen reporters, where practice and theory meet – or maybe not. One student reporter looked back critically on a training workshop [8] [ja], saying:

私たちも「ニュースとは何か?」というものを勉強している身であるのですが、それを町民の方に理解して頂けるように説明するということは、とても難しいことです。

As for students like us who study “what is news”, I found it was more difficult to explain what it is to people in town.

Another student intern saw reactions to stories on Facebook [9] [ja] as a potential motivator for citizen reporters:

町民レポーターになってくださった方が書かれた大槌中学校吹奏楽部・定期演奏会の記事は、フェイスブックページに投稿した日だけで663人もの方が見てくださいました!シェアした方々も何人かおられました。この結果を町民レポーターの方にiPhoneで見せると「もっと書く気になるね!」と積極的なお言葉をいただきました。紙の記事とは異なり、リアルタイムで読者の数や反応がわかるインターネット記事は、書き手にとってやる気の源泉ともなるようです。

663 people have seen the post on Facebook written by a citizen reporter. Many shared the story about a concert by Otsuchi Junior High School brass band club. “I feel like writing more articles!” said one citizen reporter, when I showed him the response on Facebook with my iPhone. Unlike paper-based media, the interactivity made possible by online articles seems to be a good motivation for reporters, where they can witness the amount of traffic and responses in real time.

Internship student teaches photography to citizens in Otsuchi. Image used with permission.

Internship student teaches photography to citizens in Otsuchi. Image used with permission.

Other students organized a workshop [10] [ja] on using digital cameras and mobile phones to record news:

このワークショップを行ったのは、お茶っこに参加した時に「言いたい事、伝えたいことはたくさんあるし、いつもお茶っこしてる皆でだったら町民レポーターをいくらでもやるけどね。カメラも撮れないし、パソコンも使えねえから無理だ」と言われたのがきっかけでした。ワークショップが終わった後、この小鎚第20仮設のお茶っこグループの方々が町民レポーターを引き受けてくださる事になりました!!ありがとうございます。

When I held [the workshop] in the tea salon, one citizen said to me, “I always have something to tell. I would become a citizen reporter with all other participants of the tea salon we have here. But I don't know how to take photos, I can’t use computers. So I can’t do it.” That’s why I decided to organize this workshop. After finishing the workshop, members of tea salon from temporary housing sector 20 [for displaced citizens] became citizen reporters! I’m so pleased for them.

You can see the latest stories from Otsuchi on their Facebook Page [11] as well as their website otsuchinews.net [12].


Article printed from Global Voices: http://globalvoicesonline.org

URL to article: http://globalvoicesonline.org/2012/10/22/after-japan-earthquake-a-new-local-newspaper-by-citizens/

URLs in this post:

[1] Japan 2011: http://globalvoicesonline.org/specialcoverage/2011-special-coverage/japan-earthquake-tsunami-2011/

[2] Otsuchi: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C5%8Ctsuchi,_Iwate

[3] online fundraising campaign: https://readyfor.jp/projects/otsuchi-future-paper

[4] Otsuchi Mirai Shimbun: http://otsuchinews.net/newspaper/20121015/147

[5] Japan Center of Education for Journalist: http://jcej.info/

[6] Volunteer Info: http://volunteerinfo.jp/

[7] available online: http://otsuchinews.net/

[8] looked back critically on a training workshop: http://d.hatena.ne.jp/jcej/20120912/1347458520

[9] saw reactions to stories on Facebook: http://d.hatena.ne.jp/jcej/20120908/1347112921

[10] a workshop: http://d.hatena.ne.jp/jcej/20120907/1347026520

[11] Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/NewsLabOtsuchi

[12] otsuchinews.net: http://globalvoicesonline.org http://otsuchinews.net

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