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WaiWai(Mainichi-Shinbun)'s Apology

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Re: WaiWai(Mainichi-Shinbun)'s Apology

Postby coco » Mon 06.30.2008 10:58 am

sunzoltar wrote:Perhaps we should have a Purity Squad to decide which Japanese articles are appropriate to translate for a Western audience? It sounds like you would volunteer to be the editor in chief? Japanese newspapers are notoriously boring because they focus on increasing their subscriber base by writing articles that would offend nobody. The void in the news cycle is filled by weekly magazines, many of which are owned directly by the newspapers. These weekly magazines provided the sources for the WaiWai articles. While the weeklies offer some sensational articles, they are also one of the few news outlets in Japan to offer real opinion articles and articles critical of the status quo. I, for one, would prefer to see more articles from weeklies and other non-newspaper sources translated and discussed in English, rather than the milk-toast offerings from Japan's five major news outlets. --and no, I am not affiliated with Mainichi or any newspaper. I am just a reader, disappointed to to find a section of my news cut out by self-styled censors.


It is The Mainichi Newspapers Co. that should have had a Purity Squad to decide articles which are worth translating. They should have not reported articles which they would hesitate to report in their native language.
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Re: WaiWai(Mainichi-Shinbun)'s Apology

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Mon 06.30.2008 12:27 pm

sunzoltar wrote:Perhaps we should have a Purity Squad to decide which Japanese articles are appropriate to translate for a Western audience?


Part of the job of a journalist is to decide which articles to publish. As Doinkies said, you cannot have it both ways -- you cannot try to make yourself out to be a reliable publisher of secondary/alternative news while simultaenously running articles about mothers giving oral sex to sons that Journalism 101 professors would give you an F on. Not only is the subject ridiculous, but the articles are poorly sourced, obviously false, and highly exaggerated (i.e. you can see Doinkies example where a satirical article in Japanese about a bestiality restaurant was hyped by the English "translator" as if it were not only one restaurant, but a current trend in Japanese culture.)

This is not about censorship. It's about reliable journalism.
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Re: WaiWai(Mainichi-Shinbun)'s Apology

Postby sunzoltar » Mon 06.30.2008 7:14 pm

Yudan Taiteki wrote:
sunzoltar wrote:Perhaps we should have a Purity Squad to decide which Japanese articles are appropriate to translate for a Western audience?


Part of the job of a journalist is to decide which articles to publish. As Doinkies said, you cannot have it both ways -- you cannot try to make yourself out to be a reliable publisher of secondary/alternative news while simultaenously running articles about mothers giving oral sex to sons that Journalism 101 professors would give you an F on. Not only is the subject ridiculous, but the articles are poorly sourced, obviously false, and highly exaggerated (i.e. you can see Doinkies example where a satirical article in Japanese about a bestiality restaurant was hyped by the English "translator" as if it were not only one restaurant, but a current trend in Japanese culture.)

This is not about censorship. It's about reliable journalism.


Mainichi and the other major Japanese newspapers offer only the most noncontroversial and banal take on the news. You would be hard pressed to find any articles which would offend anybody. However, every other major Japanese news outlet, including those owned by the newspapers, offers a wide variety. Sports papers include nude photo spreads next to game stats, weekly magazines offer reviews of sex services next to literary articles, and fluff-tabloid magazines sometimes break political scandals that the larger newspapers are afraid to tackle.

Japanese media offers an amalgam of the high, middle, and low-brow, yet the only articles which filter back to English tend to be the boring and the benign. Mainichi opened a window, albeit a small one, into the vast world of Japanese news that is not shown to the outside world. Most educated people in Japan consider the weeklies indispensible reading for staying up on current events, even if some of the articles are sensational.

"Sunday," the first Japanese weekly newsmagazine was published in 1908 and continues to this day. In the hundred years since, it has variously been accused of being too sensational, too right-wing, too left-wing, too scandal-oriented, and too sexually explicit. The one thing it has not been accused of is being uninteresting or irrelevant. With the wide variety of weeklies published in Japan today, some articles are bound to offend. However, the non-Japanese reader would be in a much better position to make sense of all this if he/she were able to view the entirety of media available, instead of just a narrow section of "acceptable" articles as dictated by a group of self-appointed censors.

I applaud Mainichi for trying to open the world of Japanese weeklies to the Western reader. If anything, I wish they would have gone further.
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Re: WaiWai(Mainichi-Shinbun)'s Apology

Postby Harisenbon » Mon 06.30.2008 11:42 pm

Let's put it this way,

would you be just as defensive if CNN had a section of their page that translated The Weekly World News into Japanese? And gave no information that the articles were from a tabloid?

Do you think that people would automatically assume that "Man finds human head in his refrigerator, next to meatloaf" was just crap tabloid journalism? Or would they say "oh, that crazy america, what a screwed up country."
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Re: WaiWai(Mainichi-Shinbun)'s Apology

Postby Wakannai » Tue 07.01.2008 1:10 am

Harisenbon wrote:Let's put it this way,

would you be just as defensive if CNN had a section of their page that translated The Weekly World News into Japanese? And gave no information that the articles were from a tabloid?


I thought wai wai translated to YAY! YAY!
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Re: WaiWai(Mainichi-Shinbun)'s Apology

Postby doinkies » Tue 07.01.2008 1:16 am

As you have said yourself, sunzoltar, major newspapers and weekly tabloids have vastly different images and public perceptions. Because of that, they do not and should not mix. Though the Mainichi parent company also publishes a weekly tabloid, Sunday Mainichi, you do not find the tabloid's articles in the regular Mainichi Shinbun. And you don't find Mainichi Shinbun articles in Sunday Mainichi.

I've seen some people on Japan Probe make the same arguments about WaiWai that you did, and they all seem to miss the point. They argue that anyone reading WaiWai would know that their articles are from tabloids, and that the majority of WaiWai readers knew that, but in my experience it's been mostly the exact opposite (as my story about Digg illustrates). Most people who object to the WaiWai section are not saying that tabloid articles should be kept from foreigners. They are saying that tabloid articles don't belong on a major newspaper's page and that it is irresponsible to mix the two with very little warning. Furthermore, many WaiWai articles were embellished a lot from the original Japanese article and sometimes were mistranslated - for instance, a couple years ago, Shukan Bunshun ran an article about controversial sexual content in a magazine called 少女コミック. When WaiWai picked up the story, the translator obviously didn't realize that 少女コミック is a magazine title and translated all instances of that title to "girls' comics" or "shoujo manga", giving the impression that the content found in 少女コミック was something found in all recent shoujo manga. Another example was when they took an article from Cyzo about a JSDF promotional manga with a young girl in "Alice in Wonderland" type clothes and embellished it to say that it was "borderline pedophile manga", but the manga in question contained no such content nor did the original Cyzo article say anything of the sort.

If Mainichi wanted to give foreigners the full experience of Japanese tabloids, they should have set up a completely separate page from the Mainichi Daily News page to put the tabloid stuff on. They should not have put this content on their main MDN site in any form. At least Ryann Connell's "Tabloid Tokyo" books explicitly said that the stories in them were from tabloids and not to be taken seriously.
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Re: WaiWai(Mainichi-Shinbun)'s Apology

Postby sunzoltar » Tue 07.01.2008 2:05 am

Harisenbon wrote:Let's put it this way,

would you be just as defensive if CNN had a section of their page that translated The Weekly World News into Japanese? And gave no information that the articles were from a tabloid?"


Ones of the points here is to illustrate that the Japanese weeklies are not the equivalent of The Weekly World News, or any other Western publication. They are a separate genre that mixes sensationalism, hard news, opinion, and literary commentary. Weekly newsmagazines are one of the few outlets in Japanese media where one can get news that has non been whitewashed to the point of being non-controversial and generally uninteresting.

And the WaiWai articles were clearly marked as translations from the weekly magazines from which they were drawn.
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Re: WaiWai(Mainichi-Shinbun)'s Apology

Postby sunzoltar » Tue 07.01.2008 3:24 am

Thank you for the reply, doinkies. You make two good points.

First, you argue that the WaiWai articles were poorly translated. Personally, I believe that WaiWai generally offered the most free-flowing, creative translation into idiomatic English available on the site. They were able to capture the spirit of the original text without falling back on literal translations, even converting puns and plays on words into easily readable English vernacular. That said, if you believe the translations were lacking, wouldn't the answer be to improve the translation, rather than calling for an end to the articles?

Second, you argue that Mainichi should have set up a separate site for weekly magazine translations. As stated above, the articles were clearly marked and all citations were noted. In fact, most articles referred back to the original source multiple times throughout, and links to the original Japanese were made available as well. Japanese newspapers do routinely advertise for the weeklies, and those ads typically carry sensational headlines designed to grab the readers' attention.

Ironically, the WaiWai articles that have drawn all this outrage are far from the most offensive bunch to come out of the "Wacky World of Japanese Weeklies." Seeing as nobody has brought this up, I will play my own devil's advocate. Over the last few years, Japanese weekly magazines have written articles regarding such topics as: whitewashing the Nanjing Massacre, demonizing the sex-slaves taken by the Japanese army in WWII, claiming that the recent rise in crime in Japan is solely due to Chinese illegal immigrants, and even an article denying the Holocaust.

I have seen NO English speaking bloggers on any site criticize the weeklies for those articles. No, it seems that the Prude-Police are too busy agonizing over the damage to Japan's reputation that some sexual innuendo and double entendre in a few English translations have caused. If we are ever to have a meaningful cross-cultural exchange we should encourage a broader range of translation, rather than censoring out everything that might be offensive. Only then can we look at the entirety of Japanese media and try to form an informed opinion.
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Re: WaiWai(Mainichi-Shinbun)'s Apology

Postby richvh » Tue 07.01.2008 7:09 am

Could it be that those articles (unlike the WaiWai ones) were never translated, so never came to the attention of said English-language bloggers? Why haven't you complained about them in your own blog, for that matter, since you seem to have been aware of them?
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Re: WaiWai(Mainichi-Shinbun)'s Apology

Postby sunzoltar » Tue 07.01.2008 10:15 am

Good point, richvh. I was unaware that a forum like this existed until two days ago when I logged onto the Mainichi website and found that WaiWai had been canceled due to pressure from (among other things) internet forums.

That said, my complaint would be with the veracity of the original articles, not with the editorial policy that finally gave a Western audience a glimpse of the sometimes bawdy, sometimes offensive, and sometimes very worthwhile World of Japanese Weeklies.
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Re: WaiWai(Mainichi-Shinbun)'s Apology

Postby richvh » Tue 07.01.2008 10:24 am

Well, I really don't think the pressure came from this forum; it's more likely to have come from Japanese language forums, rather than from Japanese learning forums like this one. There's only a handful of WaiWai stories that have even been mentioned here, and the most we did was pooh-pooh them, so far as I know.
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Re: WaiWai(Mainichi-Shinbun)'s Apology

Postby coco » Tue 07.01.2008 11:58 am

You criticize the major newspapers in Japan because they only offer noncontroversial and banal take on the news.
How about the time-honored newspaper companies in your home country?
Do they introduce the articles from gossip magazines without any verification, like WaiWai did?

I agree that some tabloid magazines are sometimes beating interesting articles which major newspapers and TV don't report. However it is not rare case that they ended up in court and lose. Some of them create fallacious and sensational tales to boost their sales even if they know they would get sued, as you know.

I think that important topics which give effects to our daily lives (such as social security services, educational system, tax system, etc.) are controversial issues as well, but they are not necessary to be lurid. You must say those topics are boring and offend nobody.
But I don't think there is a political decision that offend nobody.
--
sunzoltar wrote:"Sunday," the first Japanese weekly newsmagazine was published in 1908 and continues to this day.

Although this is a tiny matter, 『サンデー毎日』 was published in 1922 as far as I know, and it is still alive. Does "Sunday" you mentioned continue to this day?
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Re: WaiWai(Mainichi-Shinbun)'s Apology

Postby AJBryant » Tue 07.01.2008 12:18 pm

Frankly, I'm somewhat stumped by sunzoltar's fixation on the Mainichi and WaiWai. I find it a bit disconcerting and somewhat off-putting, to be frank.

For crying out loud, *I* was the one at Mainichi, and *I* was the one involved in WaiWai, and *I* don't feel this connected to it.


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Re: WaiWai(Mainichi-Shinbun)'s Apology

Postby sunzoltar » Tue 07.01.2008 12:46 pm

Coco, that is a great argument against the weeklies, and you are absolutely right that they routinely defame people in their articles with very little fear of reprimand, as the monetary penalties in the Japanese court system if they lose a defamation case are much smaller than the profits they stand to make from selling more issues. Finally, we are getting to a useful discussion, rather than a knee-jerk reaction against a tiny fraction of articles, solely because they had to do with sex.

AJBryant, I am not sure what your affiliation with Maichini is, but I am disappointed to hear that you are so dispassionate about it!
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Re: WaiWai(Mainichi-Shinbun)'s Apology

Postby AJBryant » Tue 07.01.2008 12:57 pm

sunzoltar wrote:AJBryant, I am not sure what your affiliation with Maichini is,


Have you read this thread? ;)

but I am disappointed to hear that you are so dispassionate about it!


Sorry to disappoint you.

Maybe if I knew more about you than your apparent dedication to a pro-WaiWai crusade, I'd care more.


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