How The Japanese Media Responds To: Tsunami Warnings

February 28, 2010

Despite all my huffing/puffing about “not being sure about journalism anymore” and “how it all sucks,” truth is I’m still a total geek about it. Latest example: my reaction to the ultimate journalist’s aphrodisiac – natural disaster. I read about the Chile earthquake on the train last night (via Twitter, for added “social media” relevance), and pretty much spent the rest of the night following the story. I think I yelled at the New York Times website because they didn’t have much information about the 8.8 quake. Looks like news still get me passionate afterall, even if “passion” here means “yelling at a series of HTML codes.”

I went to bed before the Tsunami warning for Hawaii was issues, thus also missing out on the American media’s coverage (which, based on more Twitter scouring, seemed to be pretty crazy. If random people in the Twitter-verse can be trusted). Unfortunately, I woke up to the news Japan had declared a Tsunami warning for today.

Thankfully for me, I live up in the mountains and unless this reaches 2012-levels I’m extremely safe. So for me, this serves as a chance to see how the Japanese media responds to such breaking news. The only comparable situation I’ve been in was when a typhoon struck the area last year, but Japan deals with those annually. They expect those. This…a bit more unforseen. Do they Rick Sanchez out about it, or approach things more calmly?

I didn’t spring for the satellite TV package, so none of the seven channels I receive are 24-hour news networks looking to fill all those hours. Still, when I woke up and flipped on the television, all seven stations had a map of Japan plastered in the lower right-hand corner of the screen. The coastline flashed every other second, indicating what areas were under the greatest threat (Mie was listed under the “second degree” level). This graphic stayed on the screen at all times for most of the stations, though a few took it down when they went to commercial.

Most of the channels didn’t break away from regularly scheduled programming…so the flashing graphic (sometimes joined by a blue-bar with white text scrolling over it to give info) just sat over whatever variety show, Go strategy report or cooking program happened to be on. Only two stations broke away to cover the Tsunami threat. Though they did have the classic “reporter on the scene with umbrella and/or poncho getting soaked” shot, most of the coverage was in-studio and seemed to be focused on telling the people in effected areas when the Tsunami was expected to hit. They had a constantly updating box in the corner listing locations and estimated time of strike. Save for some old footage of Tsunami aftermaths of years before, it didn’t seem to sensationalized.

Hopefully nothing too serious comes out of all of this (and also, thoughts go out to Chile…8.8 geez). But until then, the Japanese coverage of this is really interesting.


One Response to “How The Japanese Media Responds To: Tsunami Warnings”

  1. I must tell the truth man, your website is simply amazing. I found it simply by scouring around Google and to be honest I am definitely thankful that I did. Keep it up. On a sidenote, has the first video footage I’ve seen on this event.

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