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.