Women-only Trains in Japan

The followings are two audio clips that I recorded with my own voice and the scripts that I wrote as a newscast assignment for the Writing for Journalism class.

[NEWS] Women-only Trains in Japan
Newscast 1: Women-only Trains in Japan by Shinichiro

A recent police request sparks a debate over women-only trains in Japan. According to Kobe Newspaper, Hyogo-Prefecture Police requested JR West in October 2010 to expand the women-only train system to their express trains. Police say about 90-percent of reported groping in the trains was done in the express trains that haven’t yet introduced the women-only train system. The company says it’s difficult to meet the police’s request.

This police announcement triggered the debate over the women-only train again in Japan. Groping in trains has been a social problem in Japan for a long time. Although one can be imprisoned for up to seven years or fined up to 485 dollars, four-thousand cases a year are reported nationwide. Roughly half of them occurred in Tokyo, as the Atlantic Cities magazine reported. According to ABC News, nearly 64-percent of Japanese women in their twenties and thirties said they have experienced being groped in the train.

To reduce the groping acts, which is called “chikan” in Japanese, the present women-only train system was introduced first in 2000. Male passengers are basically not allowed to get on the passenger-car except for elementary school students or younger, handicapped, and their caretakers. These trains now run in Tokyo, Osaka, Kyushu, and Hokkaido during the rush hours in the morning, in the evening, or both. After the first system started in 2000 in the Keio lines in Tokyo, it spread to almost every train line in Tokyo and Osaka by 2005 with a strong push by the Government and police.

According to a survey done by a train company, 80-to-90-percent of women and 60-percent of men support the system, while 20-to-30-percent of people do not support it for various reasons. Many women who support the system agree mainly because it’s less crowded and more seats are available in the carriage. Other women prefer the trains because there are no annoying smells or looks from male passengers and much less drunk passengers there, as one of the female passengers told the reporter in the Atlantic Cities’ article. “To feel safer” doesn’t come as the top reason for many women who actually use the system.

For the opponents, there are a plenty of reasons to abolish this system immediately. They said that, as a result, the other cars -- especially the one next to the women-only car -- become more crowded. They say that the system hasn’t yet proven its effectiveness. It’s not a final solution to reduce groping acts, either. And most of all, it is sexual discrimination against men simply because the train companies discriminate against the passengers based on their gender. There are several opposition groups to the women-only trains. According to them, under this system, all the men are seen as possible sex offenders, and this makes some men feel uncomfortable.

Groping has also become a problem in other big cities such as New York, London, or Paris. But, posters in the train in these cities just say “Groping is a crime. Report it to police or station staff immediately.” They haven’t yet introduced a system like Japan’s. According to the Atlantic Cities, there are few countries in the world that introduce women-only trains. For example, India, Indonesia, Egypt, Pakistan, Iran, Dubai, Brazil, Mexico, Russia, and, South Korea have the similar system. But many of them were introduced due to religious reasons.

Some people suggest other measures to crack down on the sexual molestation. There seem to be many measures that train companies can take to reduce the crowdedness besides introducing women-only trains. For example, they can make the lines double-tracked or introduce off-peak tickets so that numbers of the passengers in the train would get less in rush hours. As the leader of the anti-women-only-train group suggested, security cameras can be introduced in each car to discourage gropers. In fact, they were installed in all the carriages in JR Saikyo Line and the groping cases reported dropped less than half of that in the previous year. One can easily think of other ideas such as setting more station staff or security guards on the platforms or letting them patrol in carriages. For passengers, setting emergency bells in each carriage would be good.

Even with these alternatives suggested above, so far no train company seems to change the present system.

[AD] Café and Restaurant Minami Azabu
Newscast 1: Ad (30 sec. Edition) by Shinichiro

Need a cup of coffee before you go to class? Or want a cozy space for your reading and studying? Why not drop by at our Café and Restaurant Minami Azabu on the first floor of TUJ building? By showing your Temple ID card, you can have a 100-yen discount. A variety of cakes, breads, and pastries are also available. You can have obento and bagel sandwiches, too. You can have a morning and lunch sets at the café. A cake set is also available. At night, we serve a special course dinner. Beer and wine are also available. So why don’t you come? We open from eight-thirty until ten at night only on weekdays.


Paragraph Analysis on In-N-Out Burger and Fast Food Nation

The following article was written as an assignment for the Analytical Reading and Writing class.

Often people buy a book at a bookstore after reading the first few pages to make sure that the book is interesting enough to continue reading at home. That is why Amazon has a "Click to LOOK INSIDE!" button on each book. The introduction is the most important part of a whole book in order to catch potential readers. One would expect that both In-N-Out Burger and Fast Food Nation must have strong hooks at the beginning since they were both New York Times bestsellers. Although they both focus on fast food industry, there is quite a contrast in the ways they are written. In the prologue of In-N-Out Burger, the author Stacy Perman writes not about the hamburgers or the company, but mainly about the phenomena that the burgers caused. On the other hand, in the introduction of Fast Food Nation, the author Eric Schlosser splits it into two different parts, a story about Cheyenne Mountain Base and a quick overview of fast food industry. Throughout the prologue of In-N-Out Burger, Perman successfully gets the attention of the readers by describing the facts in detail, which makes them want to turn the pages for further reading. On the contrary, despite Schlosser's concise and precise narrative, the introduction of Fast Food Nation does not seem to make the readers want to read more due to his unsuccessful analogy of the base and burger and awkward composition of the chapter. The introduction of In-N-Out Burger definitely draws more attention of the readers than that of Fast Food Nation due to the rhetoric, reading strategy, and composition.

First of all, the facts shown in In-N-Out Burger stir the readers' strong interests to the topic, whereas Fast Food Nation displays the facts only to convince them. In In-N-Out Burger, Perman introduces many episodes with details. In the middle of the chapter, she quotes what many celebrities actually said about the burgers, which makes the readers understand how much they love the burgers. She introduces an episode that Tom Hanks loves the burgers so much that he rented an In-N-Out cookout trailer for the set while filming the movie The Green Mile (Perman 8). This episode sounds very realistic and impressive for the readers with the actual information. She continues to reveal similar facts for the whole chapter, which leaves a strong impression to the readers that the burgers, in fact, have some kind of power or magic to make people crazy about them. On the other hand, Schlosser gives many figures and statistics as the evidence of his points in his book. He shows them mainly to compare the situations now and the time when fast-food industry was growing rapidly. He quotes figures such as the amount of money Americans have spent on fast food (Schlosser 3), the numbers of mothers who worked and had young children in 1975 (Schlosser 4), and the numbers of hamburgers and French fries that an average American has every week (Schlosser 6). They are very effective to persuade the readers that fast food actually changed people's eating habits, but are only used to prove what he says. Both authors reveal facts effectively to the readers, but Perman seems to be more successful in using many good examples that are very familiar with the readers and enable them to think the next question about the burgers and company themselves. Schlosser's figures strongly support what he wants to say, but they just end there and do not work as a curiosity booster.

Perman depicts the story in detail and leaves strong impression at the end, whereas Schlosser makes a short summary of the book at the end that fulfills the readers' interests. In In-N-Out Burger, Perman starts the chapter with detailed description of the opening day of a new burger shop in a local town without any background information of the burgers or the company. The readers can feel the atmosphere of that moment and imagine how big an event it was for a small town like Tucson, Arizona. Descriptions like, "businessmen in suits, women in heels, truckers in jeans, college students in T-shirts and with pierced noses, construction workers in heavy boots, and moms with babies on their hips" (Perman 1) makes it easier for the readers to visualize the scene on that day. Fast Food Nation also has well-depicted parts at the beginning of the chapter. Schlosser starts his story describing a gigantic military installation under the Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado. He illustrates the details inside the base. The beginnings of both books are quite impressive with detailed descriptions. In the later part, both Perman and Schlosser become less descriptive due to their own reasons. Instead of revealing more facts, Perman introduces just the rumors about the company among the burger fans, which leaves the readers a little unsatisfied and much interest. She also gives a quick overview of the company's recent scandal at the end, but not in detail. This is how she ends the introduction. On the other hand, after illustrating the military base under the mountain, Schlosser kindly explains the main points of the whole book in short for the readers ("This is a book about fast food, the values it embodies, and the world it has made." (Schlosser 3)) including his true motivation for why writing this book ("Most of all, I am concerned about its impact on the nation's children." (Schlosser 9)). In the later part of the chapter, Perman gives the readers an incentive to know more about the burgers and company by introducing many unfolded stories at the end, whereas Schlosser writes a summary of the entire book, which may satisfy the readers then, but does not encourage them to go on to the next chapter. In this point, the introduction of In-N-Out Burger works better than that of Fast Food Nation.

The most effective point that makes In-N-Out Burger different from Fast Food Nation is found in their compositions. From a functional point of view, the introduction of In-N-Out Burger works much better than that of Fast Food Nation by guiding the readers with much expectation to the beginning of untold, upcoming long story at the end of the chapter. As mentioned earlier, Perman starts her story with many hooks, which motivate the readers to continue to read the following chapters. She uses a number of actual details and facts to impress the readers into believing that the burgers are something great and making them want to know more about what makes people crazy about the burgers, what kind of people the owners are, and what actually happened behind the counter. She deliberately leaves the readers full of questions and with deeper interests, using words like "speculation" (Perman 9), "rumor," "gossip," and "numerous questions" (Perman 10). On the other hand, in the introduction of Fast Food Nation, Schlosser draws an analogy between a military base constructed under Cheynee Mountain and the dark side of the fast-food industry. He does it because both conceal "remarkable technological advances behind an ordinary-looking façade" (Schlosser 7), but fast-food hamburgers and natural scenery may be a bit hard to overlap in the readers' mind. Starting an introduction with an unexpected episode is a good way to unfold a long story, but in his case, it is not well-connected to the next episode. An introduction needs to "hook" the readers strongly. He might succeed in it, but he also has to bring the readers to the following chapters while maintaining the strong interests. It seems obvious that he does not seem to succeed as he has to explain the analogy with his own words later in the chapter. All the questions left unanswered are good hints in advance for the readers to continue reading. In that sense, Perman's prologue is interesting enough to keep reading the following story of the book.

Perman successfully starts the story with many details and hooks, whereas Schlosser fails to motivate the readers to go on to the next chapter because of an inadequate analogy and quick summaries of the whole book. Perman leaves many mysteries and secrets about the burgers and company to the readers at the end of the introduction to motivate them to step forward, whereas Schlosser finishes his story there and does not give enough incentives to the readers to read more. Perman also quotes many interesting episodes to invoke readers' attention, but Schlosser displays the facts only to persuade the readers. For a book, especially for a non-fiction book, an introduction always plays a very important role to catch the readers' attention. It is a good strategy to leave them a little unsatisfied so that they will look for more and turn the pages. These two introductions are perfect examples of what is effective and ineffective.

Can the Federal Government Regulate Fast-food Industry?

The following article was written as an assignment for the Analytical Reading and Writing class.

After Eric Schlosser's Fast Food Nation was published in 2001 and became a New York Times bestseller, the movie with the same title and other food-related documentaries such as "Super Size Me" (2004) and "Food Inc." (2009) became smash hits, which may reflect the enhancement of people's awareness of healthy food in the last decade. However, an article in Time Magazine Online shows that today's food situation in the U.S. has not improved since then. It has even become worse. Especially a social problem like the relation between childhood obesity and fast food draws more people's attentions. Legislation by the federal government is said to be required to stop the situation from getting worse (Melnick). Something should be done by the federal government through its policies to solve the childhood obesity problem, but it should not make laws to restrict the fast-food industry.

The policies of the federal government can affect private sectors strongly in direct or indirect ways without legislating them. How it gets involved in fast-food industry without any legislation that against it can be seen in its recent political actions for school meals. It is aimed to solve a childhood obesity problem in a generation. In December 2010, President Obama signed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act to authorize funding for federal school meals and child nutrition programs, and increase access to healthy food for low-income children with a $10 billion budget increased for the next 10 years (Press Secretary). The budget will benefit the purveyors that can provide healthy food. It might have been no problem serving cheap but unhealthy fast food when "working-class families could finally afford to feed their kids restaurant food" (Schlosser 20) at fast-food restaurants in the 1950s, but it is not good enough now. All the food manufacturers and retailers will try to supply new meals that meet the requirements of the new policies, which will be done without any direct regulation against the food industry. What the Government actually does in this new law is listed in the initiative Let's Move!, which is the foundation that the First Lady Michelle Obama launched in February, 2010. It says: 1. Giving parents helpful information and fostering environments that support healthy choices, 2. Providing healthier foods in schools, 3. Ensuring that every family has access to healthy, affordable food, and 4. Helping children become more physically active (Let's Move!). Here, they not only try to replace unhealthy foods with healthier ones, but also increase accessibility and affordability of healthy food for the families that cannot afford them. This cannot be done by profit-motivated private companies. What the initiative is doing here is just to show all the stakeholders including parents, families, schools, communities, health care, industry, media, and government a right direction to solve the problem and let them get involved with their own initiatives. This initiative can work only through the federal government's policy that has nationwide impact.

There has been a strong concern, however, that unhealthy fast-food has been served and advertised at cafeterias in public schools nationwide and legislation against serving and promoting these foods may be necessary to solve the problem. Schlosser revealed in his book ten years ago that "nation's food chains are marketing their products in public schools" (Schlosser 52) and points out that "about 30 percent of the public high schools in the United States offer branded fast food" (Schlosser 56). In Super Size Me, the director and performer Morgan Spurlock also shows that many public schools serve innutritious fast food in cafeterias. In 2005, the Institute of Medicine recommended in its report that schools and school districts should create environment that are advertising-free to the greatest extent possible (Kraak). Center for Disease Control and Prevention also suggests on its website that schools should provide food options that are low in fat, calories, and added sugars (CDC). They all suggest that something should be done for school meals in cafeterias, but the situation has not been changed since Schlosser reported because fast-food companies have never stopped targeting children since then with their strong advertising strategy that "childhood memories of Happy Meals can translate into frequent adult visits" (Schlosser 123) to fast-food restaurants in the future. According to Time Magazine Online posted in November in 2010, the Federal Trade Commission is said to be looking into designating children as a "protected" group in order to shield them from the advertisements of unhealthy foods (Melnick). In the article, Kelly Brownell, co-founder and director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, insists that change will come only from "public outcry and legislation" (Melnick). Schlosser says in his book a decade ago, "Most of all, I am concerned about [fast food's] impact on the nation's children" (Schlosser 9) and his concern seems to have become a reality.

Nonetheless, legislation by the federal government against corporate activities does not change the children's thinking about healthy life-style. The new law mentioned earlier has been signed in December 2010 and the initiative had already launched ten months before that. It is difficult to tell if its new actions will work well or not at this point, but the U.S. Government now considers childhood obesity not only as a health care threat due to an increase of health care costs of obesity-related diseases like high-blood pressure, high cholesterol, and TypeⅡ diabetes in the future, but also as a national-security threat since more than one in four young people are unqualified for military service because of their weight (Lee). It is now taken as a national priority and the Government set a clear goal to solve the problem within a generation (Press Secretary). They are strongly motivated by the real threats and taking pragmatic measures to solve the problem as soon as possible based on the national interests.

Another reason for not legislating against a food industry is that it may conflict with the state's policies. Instead, the federal government can help providing healthier meals nationwide. For example, the Government will spend additional six cents per lunch at school to provide with healthier options, which is the first-time increase in over 30 years since Truman. The new legislation will help 115,000 children gain access to school meal programs (Press Secretary) such as the HealthierUS School Challenge Program led by the Department of Agriculture (Food and Nutrition Service), while still permitting local flexibility to tailor the policies to their particular needs (Lee). It does not add a dime to the deficit (Press Secretary). These points are very important because there is huge regional diversity in the U.S. It makes the federal legislation difficult to apply equally. There are some locations called "food deserts" where fresh food is simply not available for purchase (Heuvel). The financial and legislative support by the federal government should be based on the challenges that each community faces because each knows exactly what is needed there. For example, a state or city council can pass a tough legislation directly against fast-food industry's marketing in the state or local community there.

Some legislative actions are actually taken to end advertising fast food to children. A bill that was in hearing process in February 2011 in the Nebraska Legislative Committee prohibits toy giveaways in child meals and the City of San Francisco has also recently passed a similar ordinance (Beck). Schlosser also introduces the voice of the administrators in his book who refuses to allow any advertising in their schools. He quotes some words from a member of the San Francisco Board of Education saying "It's our responsibility to make it clear that schools are here to serve children, not commercial interests" (Schlosser 55). The members of a board of education and city counsels can do something to solve the problem in their ways based on the consensus in the community. If the problem cannot be solved among them, the state government would take actions then. What the federal government actually can do nationwide is very limited. For example, asking major food manufacturers and retailers to place nutrition labeling on the front of the package is the one thing to make it easier for parents to identify healthier foods (Ferran). With the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, each school is motivated by joining the Government's programs based on their needs. As a result, proper purveyors in the community are chosen in competition. Free market mechanism works here without any inhibitory regulations.

There are many actions that the federal government can take to solve social problems such as childhood obesity without regulating corporate activities. In other words, this is how the federal government plays its role in the society without interfering with free-market competitions in private sectors. What they can do instead is to show the direction for the solution and draw a map for it. They can corporate with all the stakeholders in the problem and bring them forward by giving them incentives to do so. This is the crucial point that the Government has to keep in mind if they would like to gain bipartisan support in Congress and bring their policies into practice sooner.

McDonaldization Versus Slow Food Movement

The following article was written as an assignment for the Analytical Reading and Writing class.

Food products of giant multinational corporations such as McDonald's have huge impacts on people's food preference since fast food became so popular and is familiar all over the world that people's food preferences are often set by their eating experience of the fast food in their childhood. For some people, fast-food tastes become the standards. On the other hand, more high-graded restaurants that serve unique local specialties with the local ingredients receive stars on the Michelin and other restaurant guides for gourmands and gain more popularity. There seem two different standards on food formed by globalized fast food and traditional local cuisines. Both globalized and local foods try to expand their territories and some even attempt to transform themselves into the other end, most of which seem to fail so far. Even though McDonaldization of food has greatly changed how and what we eat today and brought many advantages to us, it has also produced negative effects as well. Following argument shows how those two powers compete each other.

Due to the advancement of multinational fast-food companies such as McDonald's throughout the world, many local food shops and restaurants have been pushed out of their business to the point where they need to be preserved and promoted not to be extinct. As homogenized fast-food has become more available with the growing number of the fast-food restaurants all over the world, many local-food shops and restaurants now have to find their ways to survive with their local originality. In order to fight against an invasion of McDonald's, Slow Food movement started in 1986 in Italy to preserve local food products and cuisines which can be extinct in the near future. It focuses not only on the shops and restaurants, but also on the food production systems and traditional food culture that have been passed down over generations. The association publishes the quarterly magazine Slow and other guidebooks such as Vini d'Italia for Italian wines and Osterie d'Italia for traditional Italian cuisines. They also host many kinds of events around the world such as Friendship Tables and Hall of Taste, and give the Slow Food Award to the person or group of people who contributed most to the local food promotion in the year. All of these are to stand out against McDonaldizing forces and to promote their local originality to more consumers around the world to have them visit the locations. Another example of promoting locality against McDonaldization is bed-and-breakfast (B&B). George Ritzer, the author of The McDonaldization of Society 6, suggests in his book that B&Bs can be an alternative to the McDonaldization because they are not systemized and manualized. It basically offers home-style hospitality and local homemade-breakfast to the travelers at a local private home owned by a local owner. At a B&B, the visitors can have cultural experience of the location and communicate friendly with the local owner. The visitors go there expecting to be treated like a family member (Ritzer 192). Both examples show that they promote their local products and services with full attention not to isolate themselves from their surrounding cultural contexts. They are also aimed at having human communication through the visit. To prevent the local foods from extinction and compete with the multinationals in the same town, the local food shops and restaurants have to promote their originality in the region and bring the consumers to the town where they can experience the real locality.

However, while maintaining the advantages of globalization, McDonald's has tried to localize itself to the regions. Other multinational competitors also practice their own localizations that seem totally opposite to that of McDonald's. Without giving up the good aspects of McDonaldization such as fast and convenient services, low prices, and safe and uniform quality of the products, McDonald's has developed a variety of menu items in order to localize a part of their globalized foods. McDonald's has added many kinds of local foods to its menu for years all around the world. For example, they have served McLaks (a grilled salmon sandwich with dill sauce) in Norway, McHuevos (a hamburger with a poached egg) and McQuesos (toasted cheese sandwiches) in Urguay, and McChicken Korma Naan and Lamb McSpoicy in England (Ritzer 183). Some of them have been still on the menu and were even sold in several countries. They were totally "localized" and included a part of the local food at the location.

Another example of a multinational food-enterprise that practices its own ways of localization is Starbucks. They try their best to convey the information of the coffee beans they use to the customers as much as possible through the brochures at the shops and on their website. They try to share more stories of the local coffee farmers and farms as much as possible with the customers to let them experience and feel more "locality" of the coffee when they drink it. On the other hand, they also offer "locally customized" coffee in some countries. For example, customers can enjoy "sakura late" at any Starbucks in Japan. Besides these attempts to be localized, there are many other characteristics at Starbucks that are totally opposite to the principles of McDonaldization. For example, Starbucks does not apply the franchising system which is what made the McDonald's a huge success (Schlosser 95). Compared to the reasonable and limited menu items of McDonald's, Starbucks sells high-quality products with relatively high prices. Unlike the totally manualized customer services at the counter and the hard, uncomfortable seats at McDonald's which intend to make the customers leave early, Starbucks expects the customers to stay as long as they want. It would like them to regard the shop as "a third place between home and work" or a kind of "communities" (Ritzer 219). According to the CEO Howard Schultz, all of these attempts are designed for the "human connection and humanity" (Ritzer 219), which sounds like what the Slow Food movement tries to regain from the inhumane McDonaldization. Furthermore, he insists that their business is good for the local town where they have their branch ("we don't change the economics of a town... we enhance downtown traffic for neighboring shops.") (Ritzer 222) Although Ritzer sees these characteristics as just another type of McDonaldization and calls it "Starbuckization" (Ritzer 218), these attempts to localize the company itself may seem good enough to solve some of the problems that McDonaldization causes or to ease the downsides of globalization to a certain degree. Overall, both examples suggest that there can be some ways to get out of the dichotomy of globalism and localism.

However, even though the multinational food companies have tried their best, globalized foods are difficult to be localized and vice versa due to their fundamentally different characteristics. The attempt of McDonald's shows how difficult it is for a globalized company to offer localized products. A controversy on the McItaly Burger in Italy shows clearly how difficult it is for a multinational to adopt and promote the locality as its selling point. McDonald's in Italy started selling a new hamburger called McItaly in January 2010, all of which ingredients are made in Italy (Ide). At the ceremony held at Rome's flagship McDonald's, the Italy's Minister of Agriculture Luca Zaila says "McItaly is the first completely traceable burger through which we can globalize our Italian identity." Can it be the slow fast food then? Carlo Petrini, a founder of the Slow Food movement and also the one who failed to stop McDonald's from opening its first restaurant in Italy in the previous year, commented on this news saying that globalizing a taste does not promote Italian cuisine but rather standardizes and homogenizes it (Ide). This argument shows that even if food is made with local ingredients, it cannot be called Slow Food or local food simply because the consumers cannot have any attachment to it. Besides the fact that it is made only with the ingredients in Italy, there is no characteristics that are related to any particular local identity in the country. In other words, it lost its overall locality by being isolated from its local contexts through its globalizing and homogenizing processes. This is what Ritzer calls "The Glocalization of Nothing" (Ritzer 179).

Carlo Petrini
The same thing can be said about local food shops and restaurants, too. One of the important principles that the Slow Food movement stick to is that local products should be consumed at the location where they are made. For example, a particular wine increases its symbolic value when it is consumed with local dishes at a local restaurant. That is why the practitioners of the Slow Food movement hold many events to bring the consumers to the locations where the local food has been formed. Another pattern of losing its locality is when business gets bigger and standardized. Ritzer introduces the cases of the American Bed and Breakfast Association and the British Tourist Authority. After the association in the U.S. was established in 1981 and the guidebook was developed to set the standards, inspections are being undertaken and a rating system was implemented, all of which led to homogenize the services at the B&Bs. The British authority required its members to offer uniform amenities such as ironing boards, telephones, and trouser presses. The standards worked in favor of some owners to expand their business. As a result, it became difficult for travelers to distinguish B&Bs from motel and hotel accommodations (Ritzer 192). These examples indicate that the concepts of local food and globalization are hard to be synthesized or get along with in the same markets.

There are so many kinds of foods that are considered to be the products and services of multinational food corporations that one can hardly tell which is the one and which is not. To avoid being out of the business, local food shops and restaurants have to promote their locality and bring consumers to the location. The Slow Food movement and bed-and-breakfast are typical examples to resist being overwhelmed by the multinational forces. McDonald's and the other competitors such as Starbucks try their best to localize themselves in several ways, but their attempts do not seem to succeed. While localization by the multinationals does not seem to work well, standardization of locality may also contain the risk that leads to lose its local contexts and identity. Since many kinds of food has already been globalized and are available every where in the world today, it is difficult to distinguish the real local foods exactly from the rest of them. Even so, there are still some local cuisines that are only available at a certain location. As one of the best parts of a trip to a local area is to have the local specialties there, to preserve and promote local cuisines is desirable for both travelers and local food suppliers.

What's Good about DS106?

The following article was written as an assignment for the Newsroom Management class.

What’s Good about DS106? (Project 2) by Shinichiro

Here I report DS106 and what's good about it in audio. DS106 is an open, online digital creative course. (The name "DS" comes from digital storytelling.) Professor Scott Lockman introduces a part of the course in his Cyberspace and Society class at Temple University Japan Campus.I had an interview with him asking why he introduces it. I also asked one of the students in his class about the activities in class. My personal experience of doing assignments in the class and my thought on creativity are presented at the end.

International News Reports Now and Then

The following article was written as an assignment for the Newsroom Management class.

(Note: You can also read the following article in a newspaper style here at Issuu.com.)

Information technology has changed how newspapers report the stories in dramatic ways. In this blog post, I'm going to compare the first reports of the New York Times on two big earthquakes that occurred in Japan in 1923 and 2011. By examining how the same topic was reported in the same newspaper now and then, the differences of the media environments in the early 20th and 21st century clearly show how information technology has changed (and not changed)  news writing styles.

New York Times Sep. 2, 1923 issue
One of the most remarkable points singled out in the comparison between the international reports of the historical earthquakes in Japan is the time spans the newspaper took to report the disasters. The earthquake happened in 1923 is called Great Kanto Earthquake. It was magnitude 7.9 and is now estimated to have killed 105,000 people in the Kanto area of Japan including Tokyo, Kanagawa, Chiba, and Saitama prefectures. It started at 11:58 a.m. on September 1st Japan time, which was at 9:58 p.m. on August 31st (EST) in New York. The first report of the quake turned up on the top page of the New York Times September 2nd issue (there were five articles about the quake in total). According to the article, the news was first received on September 1st through the associated press and the next report came through radio from Japan at 8:20p.m. on September 1st U.S. time . it took almost a day since the quake occurred and another half-day was needed for the article to be delivered to the readers.

Surprisingly, the time span it takes to deliver the news is not so different from that of today. The biggest earthquake ever recorded in Japan's history struck on March 11th, 2011. The quake is called Tohoku Earthquake. It was a 9.0 magnitude and killed nearly 20,000 people. It broke out at 2:46 p.m. Japan time, which was midnight at 0:46 a.m. (EST) on March 11th in New York. The first report on the New York Times online was released on the same day March 11th U.S. time, but the same article of the print edition was on the March 12th issue. These time spans now and then show that because of the feature of newspaper media, even today newspaper still takes a whole day to convey international news to the readers living on another side of the ocean.

New York Times Mar. 11, 2011 online issue
The other point that is very different between old and new reports is their news sources. Due to the characteristic of natural disasters, the news reporters, especially the small unit of foreign media which doesn't have its own helicopter, couldn't go to the quake-hit area immediately and report what they actually see and hear there. Instead, they interviewed the witness or quoted the news from other news sources. In the case of Tohoku Earthquake in 2011, the New York Times reporter took the latter way. All the information about the affected area was quoted from Japanese news media such as Mainichi Shinbun (newspaper), TV Asahi, Kyodo News, and NHK television. Some part of the article was based even on YouTube videos and Twitter messages. Another thing that the New York Times correspondent did for writing the article was to interview an American professor who happened to visit Tokyo and ask him his personal experience during the quake. However, many photos of the disaster were provided by the associate press so that the readers could know what was going on at the suffered area then.

New York Times Sep. 2, 1923 issue
On the contrary, the reporters and editors of the New York Times in 1923 had very hard time to gather the information from Japan. Because the cable connections between Guam and Tokyo had been interrupted, the only report was sent by the station of Radio Corporation of America located in Japan. The correspondent seemed to live in "Tomioka," which was "located in an isolated position 144 miles from Tokio" (This is probably Tomioka town in Fukushima prefecture in the north part of Japan). This correspondent said that he obtained all the information of the quake from a local newspaper. The New York Times itself admits in the article that the information was very limited saying that "Meagre reports received here indicate ..." Instead, they focuses more on how difficult it was to get the information from Japan at that point saying that "Communication with Japan, interrupted by the earthquake at noon, Tokio time, today, was still virtually at a standstill twenty-six hours later."

"Typical Yokohama" photo on Sep. 2, 1923 issue
What they do next is to fill the article with the general information about Tokyo and Yokohama (a big town next to Tokyo) to fill the page. For example, they explain Tokyo's geographical features in detail. They begin with the history of Yokohama (e.g. the U.S. Commodore Perry came in 1853, etc.), describe where Asakusa and other areas are sited in Tokyo, and even introduce the sightseeing spots (e.g. "The view of the river mouth from the bridge is especially fine, and attracts many tourist," "One of the best recreation grounds in Tokyo is Fukagawa Park.") The description is so detailed that the reader may raise a question why the article has to be so in detail. They got most of the information from a former resident in Yokohama who then lived in the U.S. As a result, the article goes like "Mr. Austin was inclined to think ...," "... presumably suffered..." There are four photos of Tokyo and Yokohama on the top page, but all of them are not scenes of the quake, but typical street shots that show how the towns usually were. There were some comments based on wrong information. For example, one of the articles' headline says, "Earthquake Centres in the Extinct Volcano of Fuji," which was not true at all. All the details mentioned above show that the reporters and editors of the New York Times at that time did what they could do then, but also show that the sources were very limited compared to those of today. To get to the disaster-hit area is probably still very difficult for foreign press even today, but the comparison above shows how various kinds of media are actually used as sources in the digital age.

New York Times Sep. 3, 1923 issue
The last difference that can be found in the comparison between old and new articles is about the vocabulary used in the old articles. Since they were written 88 years ago, some contain words that are no longer used in today's newspaper. There are some old words such as "wrought" instead of "worked." Different words are used to describe the same thing ("tidal wave" became "tsunami" and "breakwater" became "seawall.") In the old articles, Tokyo was spelled like "Tokio." The other interesting point regarding the expressions used in the article is the terms and comments which slightly contain racial and colonial perspectives. For example, when referring to the number of Americans living in Yokohama, the article goes like "... and of the 3,000 white foreigners some 700 are Americans ..." The term "natives" are often used to describe local Japanese residents (e.g. "the richer natives are constructed on ..."). Probably both expressions were quite normal in 1923, but we rarely see them on today's newspaper any more.

There are many differences in different aspects between the reports in the old time and today. Still there are same conditions that cannot be changed even today -- the feature that newspaper conveys the news of the day before and the difficulty for foreign press to go to an affected site immediately. One of the most interesting things that I found through this research is the coincidence that the Tomioka, where the U.S. radio correspondent sent the first report of the Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923, is the very site where the Tohoku Earthquake hit in 2011 and the correspondent of the New York Times in Tokyo must have wanted to go immediately to report the situation.