This is the fifth installment of a series that overviews the changes in the media landscape, focusing on the latest trends of the broadcasting industry in the age of the convergence of telecommunications and broadcasting and government policies to clarify future issues. This article covers the developments from August 2019 through April 2020.
First, the author would like to touch on broadcasters' efforts and challenges facing them regarding COVID-19. How should broadcasters communicate the situation that changes from day to day to the audience calmly and objectively? What roles can broadcasters play for pupils of elementary and junior high-schools who are deprived of the opportunity to receive education due to the across-the-board closure of schools? What kinds of messages can be conveyed to different people in different situations? As the situation keeps changing even now, thorough analyses and studies are yet to be done, but the author tries to archive broadcasters' movements since April when the situation turned very serious.
The main discussion of this paper is the movements surrounding NHK. On April 17, 2020, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) established a subcommittee on the roles of public service broadcasting under its study group on issues surrounding broadcasting. With this, intense debates on the receiving fee system will unfold in conjunction with NHK's so-called “the trinity reform” on “operations,” “receiving fees,” and “governance.” Taking the occasion of the launch of “NHK Plus” that provides online simulcasts of certain TV programs and catch-up service on April 17th, this paper examines the developments of the debates on around-the-clock simulcasting services since 2015 when the discussion started. It also reviews the movements regarding NHK over the recent six months, focusing on each of the three themes of “the trinity reform.” By examining these topics, the author presents issues that are assumed to be critical for NHK in the future.
The NHK Broadcasting Culture Research Institute has been conducting “surveys on school teachers' media usage” since 2013 to study the actual status of media environment in school classrooms across Japan as well as to understand the whole picture of the usage of NHK's educational services such as broadcasts, websites, and events. The survey is targeted at individual teachers and were introduced as a replacement of the “NHK School Broadcast Utilization Survey” (1950 to 2012), a regular survey of “schools.”
The 2019 survey–the second attempt focusing on junior high school teachers, following the 2015 survey–added two more school subjects to investigate to four (science, social studies, Japanese language, and foreign languages) and introduced new questions on the media use for moral education and other subjects that are taught mainly by classroom teachers as well as questions on teachers' attitudes towards the usage of smartphones by students for learning.
From the results of the survey it is revealed that (1) an environment where teachers can use media devices including TV sets and computers has been put in place to a certain extent, (2) notably, tablet computers are available to more than 60% of teachers for all of the four surjects, and many teachers utilize one–to–one device environments. Differences in media usage depending on school subjects are also found such that radios and CD players are used more by teachers of Japanese and foreign languages. Meanwhile, as to the internet environment in classrooms, although wireless connection accounts for more than 60% now, problem–free video playing is yet to be achieved.
More than 80% of teachers of all four subjects use media learning/teaching materials on those tools, and it is worth noting that the use of “NHK for School has increased in science to 63% (from 55% in 2015) and in social studies to 56% (from 35% in 2015). Among subjects that are taught mainly by classroom teachers, almost 60% of moral education teachers use media materials.
In regard to the use of smartphones by students for learning, many teachers have negative opinions about it both for learning at school and at home, which reveals the issues of smartphone use for learning.
As the idea and practice of “one to one device” is likely to take hold, it is required to develop and provide not only media materials for teachers but also learning/teaching materials that can adjust to individual student's academic ability and offer active learning opportunities.
In the age of information overload, the strength of news media around the world are being tested: whether they can play their role of gathering and verifying what is important and necessary out of the tsunami of entangled, complicated and often unreliable information, making them digestible and providing context.
Newsrooms need to work harder to ascertain whether their coverage is reaching and resonating with their audience. They must be flexible enough to revisit and review their work if they find gaps. Journalism cannot continue as a one-way communication. It needs to initiate dialogues that enable journalists and the public to learn from each other, and to create information together. That requires engagement.
But what exactly is engagement? In what aspects does it differ from traditional news gathering? What does it aim to achieve? This interview series provides some answers to these questions through the experiences and insights of practitioners and thinkers of Engaged Journalism in the U.S. The interviews were conducted in October 2019 for a previous paper “Engaged Journalism” published in the March 2020 issue.
The first part of this series features journalists working for two traditional media outlets, knkx and KUOW, both NPR affiliates in Seattle. knkx is working on their first engaged journalism in a podcast series ‘Outsiders’ that centers on the lives of homeless people and the complicated reality of homelessness, a growing issue in all West Coast cities. KUOW launched a community engagement team five years ago. Their project ‘Ask A’ has created opportunities for Seattle citizens to have conversations that deepen mutual understanding, especially with those who have been seen and treated as ‘others.’
The two public radio stations are trying out different ways of engagement, but both are working to open up their newsrooms, lower the barriers between the journalists and the public, and to bridge social divisions within the community.