Media Mix, Dec. 25, 2021

Here’s this week’s Media Mix, which is the usual review of themes and persons that I felt stood out in the media during the past year. It’s also the last Media Mix. The Japan Times’ management has decided they no longer want to run the column. As for me, I could go on forever, and I probably will in one form or another, but we’ll see.

Media Mix started in January 1995 with an analysis of Anpanman. It was published biweekly until the spring of 2001, when it became a weekly column. With the exception of a few New Year’s, it has appeared every single week since then without fail. So that adds up to about 1,200 columns comprising more than a million words. My original pitch to the Japan Times was a TV column. I had already been writing reviews of Japanese TV shows for another periodical and when they dropped the column I wondered if JT would be interested in picking it up. Mark Thompson, an editor at JT, suggested I expand the idea to cover Japanese media in general. However, for those first six years when the column came out every two weeks, I still mainly stuck to TV, if not necessarily TV shows. After the turn of the century, however, I relied less on TV as a resource for the column, and not just because I was trying to get a broader sense of how the media addressed particular subjects. Japanese broadcast television hasn’t really evolved much over the past thirty years and I didn’t think there was anything more I could write about it that would be new. More to the point, I grew tired of Japanese TV, and as the internet became the central medium for the distribution of information I concentrated more on news aspects and wrote less about entertainment and celebrities. Another reason for this shift in focus was my increased dependency on input from my partner, Masako Tsubuku, who, for all intents and purposes, is the co-author of Media Mix, especially after it went weekly. She’s responsible for most of the research, but more importantly she helped me frame whatever analysis I applied to a topic from a social standpoint. It goes without saying that the media shapes our perception of the world, and Masako helped me understand, from week to week, how that worked in reality as it affected people. 

In letting go of the JT version of Media Mix, I want to thank my editors over the years—Irma Nunez, Rowan Hooper, Simon Bartz, Daniel Robson, Mio Yamada, Elliott Samuels, Shaun McKenna, Ben Stubbings—as well as the JT fact checkers, Haruka Murayama and Rina Yamazaki. If I’ve forgotten anybody, I apologize. Twenty-seven years is a long time. I’d also like to thank Mark Schreiber, whose help with collecting materials was invaluable; and, of course, Mark Thompson, who, as I already mentioned, came up with the idea of Media Mix and always had my back. We will continue writing about the Japanese media on this blog, at least for the time being, so check in occasionally if you’re interested. Thanks for reading. 

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21 Responses to Media Mix, Dec. 25, 2021

  1. cybermaai says:

    Taihen ostukare-sama. I’ve been enjoying these columns since the beginning. Glad you will continue here.

    It’s a real shame what’s happening to JT. All the best columns and columnists have been disappearing over the last few years. It used to be such a fantastic newspaper…

  2. moviefan55 says:

    You wrote a great column that I read week after week, year after year. There’s more I could say about the JT, etc, but will save it for the next time we meet — at the FCCJ?

  3. Sorry to hear that Media Mix is coming to a close, at least in its form in the JT. It was appointment reading with as your observations were always original, and often on ‘unconsidered trifles’ regarding Japan.

  4. glensfukushima says:

    Sorry to learn that your JT column is coming to an end. I enjoyed reading it every week and look forward to reading you through other media.

  5. arudoudebito says:

    Hi Philip. I’m deeply disappointed that Media Mix is coming to an end in the JT. Their housecleaning has also included my year-end Top Ten Human Rights column as well. Please keep writing about your topics. We need more people with your insights, and fewer talking heads with an agenda of only showing the shiny side of Japan to the world. With great respect, Debito Arudou

  6. arudoudebito says:

    Hi Philip. It is deeply disappointing that a person with your depth of knowledge is being housecleaned like this. I too was told my regular year-end column of the Top Ten Human Rights Issues was also not within their editorial interest. We need more people like you out there commenting, so please keep writing. With great respect, Debito Arudou

  7. That sucks, but it’s their loss. You always write well and about things worth knowing. Good luck for the future.

  8. That’s disappointing in the extreme. But set JT aside and crank up for the next 1200 columns, wherever they might roam. Keep writing! I’ll keep reading!

  9. michaelpronko says:

    That’s yet one more disappointment from Japan Times. Well, shake it off and set your sites on the next 1,200 columns, wherever they crop up, where you may roam. Keep writing. I’ll keep reading!

  10. Gary says:

    Your column (along with a few others that have also been axed) was the best reason to keep buying JT. Thanks for all your interesting observations about Japanese media and all that goes with it. Hope you keep writing and posting!

  11. Karolina says:

    Your column was the best thing on Japan Times for me. Such a loss.

  12. Richard Halberstadt says:

    Let me echo everyone in saying how sad it is that Media Mix in JT has come to an end, I made sure to read every one that came out. Their loss, judging from the comments, and I’ll be checking in to your web site a lot more frequently from now on. Thanks for all your hard work and illuminating commentary.

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