Japan Research and Analysis
through Internet Information

by Yasuharu Dando

Level Crossing Accident Investigation - Real Name Journalist's Blog & Amateur Blogs
(July 2005) (Japanese edition:April 2005)...Japanese Blog Review 4

Individuals who are recognized members of the media and also run blogs under their real names have been popping up one after another over the past one or two months. There are cases of blogs being written each by a multiple number of persons, who presumably are active in magazine journalism. I've seen more than twenty such names myself. As there are ones which are not in the public realm the actual numbers may be larger. Of course there are many others where it is obvious that the writers are journalists but going under a pseudonym. As background to this blogs themselves, by current trends, will go from one million now to double that in a years time.

It feels like the conection between their real work and their blogs is rather hit and miss. If a magazine is able to put out a blog with the approval of their editorial department, it's fine to do so as an attempt to gauge reaction on the net -- in the same sense of a store opening an 'antenna shop'(that specialise in trial goods and experimental lines.) -- but there is some hesitation to put the contents of their publication up on the net.

That feel is even more difficult to achieve for newspaper companies. If, like Kanagawa News, the company itself has a blog then anything can be written there - but if it was my company then writing behind the scenes stories outside of the company raises problems.

In my personal case I have freedom to do what I will with my life outside of work, but the act of answering questions about my work would probably be in violation of my contract. Aren't people who go under their real names but don't mention their workplace's name under the same unseen restriction?

As long as it concerns work determining which material to use for a blog is difficult. Possibly even as the number of people blogging with their real names increases what they can do will be limited. In relation to this, recently, there's the living research opportunity of the clash between the amateur blogger writing "My work surpases the mass media reports." and the Tobu Group Isesaki Line Takenotsuka Station level crossing accident.

Half a month has passed since the level crossing operator manually raised the barrier and two people died. A Google search results in a line up of blog entries.

Written the day after the accident, bringing together all information released outside of newspaper articles : The Great Dream: Human Error, Thoughts on the Takenotsuka level crossing accident. This, including the comment column, seems to cover the role of information centre. Of course as many people wrote from various view points on the same date such pages as "Meaningful content" (bringing together 11 compilations) and "Comment in the Blog : Good or Bad - The Takenotsuka level crossing accident" also can be expected to serve in documenting the incident.

Here I would like to take up "Takenotsuka Level Crossing Incident : What I think of the level crossing attendent I was grateful to and trusted." - written three days after the incident.

"I always benefited from the skills of that crossing's attendent. I think there must be many other people of Takenotsuka who also did. Gaps in the trains passage of just a few tens of seconds perceived with certainty, barrier lifted for that moment."

"There had been calls for a pedestrian overpass or subway from way back. However the local shopping area was opposed, just a while back there'd been a Toubu rail repair shop and train depot nearby, in reality it was a crossing where overpass and subway had both been impossible. It's not just that person, but a problem surpassing (the responsibility) of everybody at Takenotsuka station up to and including the station chief. I think it was an accident that occured with links to major redevelopment of the station area and even city planning."

By looking through the quoted material, from this you can probably get a rough picture what happened.

With the strength of local knowledge of the area's daily life, anybody would acknowledge the importance of such blog pronouncements. In this way the possibilities of the amateur side isn't held back by lack of material sourced in everyday life.

A Blog written as a reporter from resources taken from oneself. A woman has started to give up Office Lady life."Grip Blog : The Truth I've Seen"

Every week, on an undisclosed theme, she closes on her target, meets people, posts data and wraps it all up together on the weekend in a surprisingly energetic parcel of news material. I suppose providing material collected over a fixed period counts as a creative reporting but it seems to me that she is troubled by how to write of the overall impression.

I have concerns about expenses for data collection and living expenses but I'm currently wandering the net wondering if there will be more people coming out who do direct research on their own two feet.

(Special thanks to Mr. Paul Blay)

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