Interview - Michelle Nicolosi

Interview: Michelle Nicolosi, Editor, Japan Media Review - 6th June 2003

What's your background and that of JMR?

Japan Media Review is an online-only journal that examines the forces that are shaping Japanese journalism and media. We're also looking at how people in Japan are using emerging technologies to communicate with each other, and to get and share news and other information. We launched in March 2003.

Japan Media Review publishes a new feature every week. We also feature an occasional diary from students at Keio University in Japan who are studying how the proliferation of high-tech cell phones and other mobile devices are changing Japanese culture, communication and media consumption habits.

I am a former print journalist -- I worked as a reporter for 10 years at the Orange County Register in California.

I covered health and medicine there for five years and was a lead reporter on the yearlong Pulitzer Prize-winning investigation of a California fertility clinic, where doctors took eggs and embryos from patients and gave them to other patients without consent.

I've since worked at a few Internet companies, and am now Editor of Japan Media Review and an editor at Online Journalism Review

How and why was JMR established?

We received a three-year grant from the U.S. Dept. of Education to create a site that would explore media in Japan, and how technology is changing the way news and information is delivered and consumed. You can see project proposal here:

What are your aims and objectives?

There is really no other place you can go to learn about the forces shaping journalism and media in Japan. There are dozens of scholarly journals about Japan -- I searched them all and found very few articles about journalism in Japan. One paper by researcher Barbara Gatzen republished on our site observes that few communications scholars are studying Japanese media, and few media critics are talking about what kind of job the media are doing in Japan.

Why not? Japan is a media saturated country, their papers are the largest in the world -- the top two have daily circulations of 12 and 14 million each. The top newspaper in Japan has a larger daily circulation than the combined circulation of the top nine papers in the U.S.: more than the USA Today, The Wall Street, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, the New York Daily News, the Denver Post/Rocky Mountain News and The Dallas Morning News combined.

Journalism and media are, as they say, big in Japan. So why isn't anyone writing about how journalism works in Japan? In the U.S. and othercountries, there's plenty of discussion about how the media are doing, arethey good enough, how can they be better. Just look at all the media columnists on the left side of Romenesko's media news -- -- and that's just the start. This kind of debate and scrutiny holds the media accountable and hopefully makes for better journalism. I'd like to think we're creating a place where that kind of conversation about Japanese media can happen.

I also think the Japanese are in many ways ahead of the curve in their use of communication technology -- we can all learn from examining what they're doing.

What are the biggest stories you have broken?

We're writing about a topic few have written about. Many of the stories we've done -- about how the media works in Japan, about how the people in Japan are using emerging technologies to communicate and to access news have received no play in the Western press. We're breaking stories all the time -- if only because we're covering a topic no one else is covering.

How many website visitors do you attract?

We got about 10,000 page views last month (May, 2002). We've only been live for two months, so I think that's pretty good. Our most popular article by far was an article by scholar Mizuko Ito on how cell phones are bringing sweeping changes to how the Japanese coordinate, communicate, and share information.

What do you prefer to write about and why?

Here's our Writers Guidelines description of what we're looking for:

Japan Media Review is looking for freelancers to write about how emerging technologies are changing journalism in Japan. We're not looking for columns, opinion or first-person pieces -- just traditional news reporting. We will consider pitches from reporters who have substantial experience writing trend pieces for daily newspapers, magazines or online news organizations.

We'd like to hear about developments in journalism in Japan that have a technology, Internet, wireless, or convergence angle. Most of our stories will focus on talking to people in the media about where their industry is going in light of emerging technologies.

How many contributors does JMR have, and how are tasks deligated?

We have about a dozen people in the U.S. and Japan writing for us. Our grant allows us to hire four grad students help produce the site and to search the Japanese Internet for the latest news. They write a weekly news digest onwhat's happening with media and communications in Japan. Journalism students at Doshisha University in Kyoto, Japan, will also contribute to the news digest.

What other platforms of media does JMR use, or is it web exclusive?

We are online-only.

What other media coverage has you received?

We have been written about and linked to many times by other publications onthe Web.

What other imporant information should we know about JMR?

Japan Media Review is a joint project of the University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication, the USC East Asian Studies Center and GLOCOM -- the Center for Global Communications at the International University of Japan. JMR is a sister publication of
Online Journalism Review. (



Japan Media Review

Online Journalism Review