Amid the spread of coronavirus infections, the author investigates how rumors of toilet papers shortages and hoarding started as well as how these two phenomena interacted with each other. Based on that, the paper examines the role and responsibility of news reporting to properly restrain rumors and panic buying. The findings and considerations are as follows.
– The start of a rumor that toilet paper will be running out was affected by the following psychological factors: the shortage of masks, the 1970s energy crisis known as “oil shock” in Japan, and overseas panic buying. The rumors disseminated in Japan and Singapore and other contries had almost the same content and spread beyond borders, induced by pandemic fears expanding across the globe.
– Hoarding behavior, which was triggered by the rumors and began sporadically across Japan, accelerated on February 28th. The main accelerator was TV broadcasts that reported that toilet paper was running out of stock at retail stores.
– Only a few people hoarded toilet paper just because they believed the rumors. Many people who hoarded did not believe the rumors. They felt deeply anxious that others believing the rumors were buying up toilet paper, which was making it extremely hard to get the item, and they ended up joining in stockpiling. Such a psychology prevailed in response to the increase in the number of shops running out of toilet paper, which spurred panic buying.
– Information and news reporting that denied the rumors were not convincing enough because toilet paper was actually disappearing from shop shelves. The more stockpiling accelerated, the more people become anxious about supply shortage, and the denial of rumors became less and less effective.
– The spread of rumors should be suppressed before they turn into a crowd behavior that have negative impacts on society.
This paper reports the results of the November 2019 Survey on Media Use. The author explores how users perceive and make use of drastic changes in the media landscape including the commencement of simultaneous online distribution of broadcast programs as well as flourishing digital media utilizing the internet such as video streaming, social media, and internet news. The paper looks into how people trust traditional mass media and internet media to study the relationship between the trust level and the utilization ratio. The survey results show that as the number of television sets connected to the internet gradually increases, more people use video streaming services on TV. It is also found that the trust level for internet news has come closer to that for traditional mass media among young people. The author presumes the boundary between traditional media such as broadcasts and internet media such as streaming services is being further lowered for the users. In addition to this, the paper analyzes user trends by a chronological review of the survey results over the past four years including people's willingness to use the simultaneous online distribution of broadcast programs and recognition of 4K/8K broadcasting.
On top of this, as of now (early May, 2020) Japan is in a nationwide state of emergency due to the spread of the coronavirus infections. Each streaming service providers have started to take actions in response to the situation. The author overviews these initiatives that may impact the future roles of media.
There are diverse opinions regarding a question on whether “suspension of operation” (Article 76 of Radio Act) is applicable to violations of rules on editing programs (general programing standards) of the Broadcasting Act, which includes political impartiality. The rules involving this issue were added to the Broadcasting Act and the Radio Act immediately before the enactment of the so-called three radio laws (Radio Act, Broadcasting Act, and Law for Establishment of a Radio Regulatory Commission) in April 1950, but conventional studies have not sufficiently clarified the amendment process, which the author examines based on primary sources.
According to documents made at that time, first of all, the amendment to including the violations of Broadcasting Act in the Article 76 of the Radio Act was discussed mainly by the Radio Regulation Agency and the Legislative Bureau of House of Councillors in mid–February, 1950, and the purpose of the amendment was assumingly to establish consistency between the Radio Act and the Broadcasting Act. Meanwhile, amendments to the general programing standards was separately incorporated in the Broadcasting Act through debates at the Diet. Among them, adopting the standards also to commercial broadcasters was requested by persons in charge of the establishment of commercial broadcasters while changing the content of the standards was advocated mainly by Diet members of the ruling party.
Draft amendments including the above was submitted to the General Headquarters of the Allied Forces (GHQ) in March 1950. However, GHQ's concern was not the content of the general programing standards and other provisions but how to secure the independence of the Radio Regulatory Commission—a watchdog agency. As GHQ wanted early enactment, the amendments to the general standards and the Article 76 of the Radio Act were approved without any changes, and thus the three radio laws were established.
The sequence of events shows that the amendments to the Article 76 and to the general standards were conducted separately in different contexts and that GHQ did not regard those amendments as an important matter in relation to regulating programs. When considering the question on whether “suspension of operation” is applicable, it is crucial to examine the issue by taking the enactment process into account.
The second instalment of the interviews with practitioners of Engaged Journalism features three journalists, pioneers who have found their own ways to partner with the public and their communities.
Jennifer Brandel is a former Chicago public radio journalist who created a project inviting curious citizens to send in questions for the newsroom to investigate. Building on that experience, she co–founded Hearken, a start–up that provides technical support and consultation to newsrooms for community engagement.
Terry Parris Jr.–recognized the potential of engaging the public in news, when he had to cover a prolonged city–wide blackout on his own. Now as Engagement Director for THE CITY, a non-profit news outlet in New York City, he holds ‘Open Newsrooms’ to learn the information needs of local communities, and to make local news more collaborative.
Darryl Holliday is Co-founder of City Bureau, a non-profit ‘civic journalism lab’ based in Chicago, which aims to make media and journalism more democratic. He is working to equip people with the skills of journalists, and to create a new information ecosystem by bringing together the journalists and the community to collaborate.
Each of the three has different approach, but they are all working to reimagine the role of journalists and the practice of journalism. They are exploring new ways to create news that is relevant and meaningful to the people they aim to serve, through engagement and collaboration. In this article they share their experience, their thoughts and insights that lead to their unique initiatives.