Japanese news clubs

The Japanese have long used a system for newsgathering based on “kisha” clubs, journalist associations that place themselves in government ministries as a formal installation.  This kind of tight relationship between journalist and source became a form of mutual backscratching insiderism.  Now with foreign journalists pressuring the clubs for access, the system is breaking down–although the reasons kisha reporters give for restricting the definition of “who is a jouranlist?” can be comical:

He also noted that the club had opened up slightly in the past decade by allowing the big American and British financial news agencies to join. But he said the press club wanted to ensure that people posing as journalists did not get in and disrupt proceedings.

“What if someone tried to commit suicide or burn themselves to death at a press conference? Who would take responsibility for that?” Mr. Furuta asked.

U.S. journalists share the same tendencies of mutual backscratching with high-level officials;  it’s just not institutionalized as in Japan where it’s easier to notice and make fun of.  Professionalism means control, and sometimes that control can be over issues that are not relevant to the core societal mission.

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