#9 Japan

Posted: March 22, 2011 by Danie Pitre in #9 Japan

What I found remarkable about the coverage of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan was how quickly it was being covered. Sure the internet has made almost everything instantaneous but in this instance it was really incredible how fast videos were being uploaded and pictures shared within minutes. I think it’s obvious that the reason is because Japan is very high tech and wired.

But what was different about this disaster as opposed to some of the other conflicts we’re seeing in the Middle East is that Japan is about as 21st century as you can get and the this was really the first time the technology was tested on such a huge scale. What I mean by that is that it wasn’t a single point localized disaster, it really affected a huge portion of Japan.

I attended a conference last fall on disaster preparedness and they brought up the issue of emergency plans for communication if the worse happened and everything was knocked out. I think Japan passed the test in that people were lucky enough to still be able to use their cellphones for internet access once the initial panic died down. They were still wired in and it allowed friends and family to get a hold of their loved ones relatively quickly.

I also wanted to mention how impressed I was with YouTube and Japan’s News Station NHK getting a streaming video of their coverage up quickly. I wonder if this is going to become the norm for stations to just partner with YouTube to stream their stations rather than having people watch it on TV. As someone without a TV I’d be ready to embrace a 24 hours news channel solely online.

  1. It’s interesting how in disaster (or in turmoil) we have turned to news outlets abroad. For example, streaming Al-Jazeera English online during unrest in the Middle East, and now streaming NHK to get the latest info on Japan. What does this say about our homegrown coverage if we’re increasingly turning to these outlets for our news? Just a thought.

  2. Danie Pitre says:

    That’s a great question Karissa, I think we look to foreign news sources because they bring a context that you just can’t get from parachute journalists. I read an article the other day that asked if more stations are now realizing the value of having a well staffed foreign bureau, so maybe there will be a shift to covering more international news. I don’t know if our networks will see the value in it in a few months if/when the news coming from abroad slows down.

    But stations like Al-Jazeera and NHK are capitalizing on that void and I think they got the right idea. Having these domestic stations playing online for the international audience fills that void and really gives them street cred.

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