Media rethink their role

Updated: 2013-10-27 08:10

By Zhao Yinan(China Daily)

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Chinese and Japanese media have urged both countries to be prudent and comprehensive when reporting bilateral issues to prevent misunderstandings.

Kudo Yasushi, representative of the Japanese nonprofit think tank The Genron NPO, warned that media reports - rather than personal experiences - disproportionately influence public opinions since a limited number of Chinese and Japanese have been to each other's countries.

"Media reports are important in building a better bilateral relationship, as inaccurate and unbalanced reports contribute significantly to both sides' sensational attitudes toward each other," Kudo said.

Yasushi made the remarks at the Ninth Beijing-Tokyo Forum, which opened in Beijing on Saturday. Before the forum, an opinion poll conducted by China Daily and Genron found approval ratings of each other's countries are the lowest they have been in about a decade. Nine out of 10 people from both countries said they dislike their neighboring nation.

Still, about 72 percent of Chinese and 74 percent of Japanese regard ties as "important". The figures are even higher among academic organizations' members.

More than 89 percent of Chinese and 95 percent of Japanese said what they know about their neighbors comes from newspapers and the Internet.

Experts and media professionals worried the rise of new media, which shortens journalists' deadlines, and longstanding prejudice are producing unbalanced reports about bilateral relations.

Jin Ying, a researcher on Japanese studies at Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said media sometime fail to analyze the causes of social and economic issues, which generates misunderstandings.

"For instance, some Chinese media reported Japan became the world's largest creditor nation, and it recorded a consecutive 14-month trade deficit," Jin said.

"What they didn't do was examine why the two economic phenomena happened simultaneously."

Jin suggested in-depth analyses could clear up confusions.

Yomiuri Shimbun senior editor Ito Toshiyuki admitted some Japanese media act on financial incentives to publish negative reports on China and the Republic of Korea because these stories are popular in his homeland.

"Bilateral relations experts should be involved in the page design of media reports, because they can help us better evaluate what kind of news is more suitable to be put at a higher place," he said.

He also suggested journalist exchanges to enhance mutual understanding.

Asahi Shimbun senior editor Kato Yoichi said Japanese media should do more reports on ordinary Chinese rather than myopically focusing on diplomatic issues.

"Although it is impossible to not report on news events, such as the disputes over the Diaoyu Islands, it is possible for us to avoid solely negative reporting on China," he said.

(China Daily 10/27/2013 page2)