Balancing the unbalanced

There were Three Estates in Parliament; but, in the Reporters’ Gallery yonder, there sat a Fourth Estate more important far than they all. – Thomas Carlyle; “On Heroes and Hero Worship”; 1787

It’s been a while since I wrote for The Sputnik and a lot has changed. Today, the paper is much more professional in both appearance and content. Back then, we were working on a budget of $250 a month and using an old version of Print Shop to publish. Despite The Sputnik’s growth, however, the ideals are still the same: to provide the most objective content possible to students and faculty at Laurier Brantford.

Journalism rests on the foundation that writers and publishers can create an objective telling of a situation, taking all the different viewpoints and putting them together in a story that is not just compelling but thought provoking. In the first days of The Sputnik, we took this ideal very seriously. It’s what motivated us to put the paper above all our other responsibilities. From the look and feel of The Sputnik today, not much has changed.

What I’ve realized now is that objectivity is non-existent in the world’s mainstream media. I’m writing this in Tokyo, after the largest natural disaster in the history of mankind. I’ve spoken to people from all over the planet living here with families, who have had to balance the facts versus listening to the mainstream media. Facts have nothing to do with what was reported here.

Yes, there was an earthquake and an ensuing tsunami that affected hundreds of thousands. Yes, there is a nuclear power plant that, after the unprecedented double impact, sent this nation scrambling to avert meltdown.

What’s not there is panic. Unlike the mainstream foreign media, the Japanese newscasters have families and loved ones listening; facts that are too important to exaggerate and sensationalize. Watching both the Japanese and world views, I realized this style of reporting went completely unnoticed in the western media — the vultures who exemplified the worst potentiality of the disaster for their own profit.

They were here in droves selling Armageddon and when Mother Nature didn’t give them enough heartache and loss, the foreign media turned to Libya in the blink of an eye. Thanks to this kind of reporting, foreign people here felt the pressure not only of our peers but of our loved ones back in our own countries; loved ones buying into the media frenzy lock, stock, and two smoking barrels.

Why am I so livid about this? Firstly, it was the first world event that happened outside my front door. Secondly, it was the first time that what I saw with my own eyes didn’t match events told by the most “credible” accounts of what happened. Finally, I had to fight with my own family on both sides of the Pacific that what they were seeing in the foreign press was a load of vested interest horse dung.

I’ve watched my foreign business partners, clients and friends flee in droves, driven by the media’s hype about “desperation,” “ghost towns” and “Japan’s Chernobyl.” Nothing could be further from the truth.

What the reactors at Fukushima Daichi did was allow the likes of CNN and the BBC to sell premium advertising to companies that wanted to get in front of as many people as possible. Panic sells and you’re watching.

What the foreign media failed to report on is the ongoing nature of the disaster here. To date, there are over 25,000 people missing or confirmed dead; there are over 250,000 people living in gymnasiums, many of them elderly. These people need all the necessities of life – toilet paper, sanitary napkins, water, food, heat and anything else you can think of.

Now that the nuclear reactors here are coming under control, it’s the story of these victims that can’t be forgotten.

Adam German grew up in St. George, Ontario and was the founding Editor-in-Chief of The Sputnik. He is currently living in Tokyo with no immediate plans to leave.

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