10 March 2014 | No comments yet
Do you think journalists are good people? Probably not, if you watch TV.
In the media, journalists are portrayed as nosey and rude. Even if they’re asking questions everyone is curious about, most of us are trained to “mind our own business.” Even friends and loved ones who have accompanied me to interviews are shocked.
“Lauren, was it really polite to ask that man how much money he makes?” they say.
Perhaps not. But my job isn’t about being “polite.” It’s about telling the public what it needs to know. If that source had declined my question, I wasn’t going to press him. But as every journalist knows, if you don’t ask the question in the first place, you’ll never get an answer.
“Recognize that private people have a greater right to control information about themselves than do public officials and others who seek power, influence or attention. Only an overriding public need can justify intrusion into anyone’s privacy.”
This is where journalists can get it wrong. It’s up to the individual reporter to decide just what constitutes an “overriding public need” big enough to outweigh a person’s privacy.
A lot of people think that Newsweek didn’t have a good reason to expose Satoshi Nakamoto’s private life, especially when there’s still doubt about whether he’s the real inventor of Bitcoin. Likewise, some people criticized Gawker for unmasking an infamous Reddit troll, compromising his privacy for no other reason than that it was interesting. The gray area comes from not knowing whether “public interest” counts as “public need.”
In my upcoming book, I wrote a whole chapter on ethical journalism, especially in fandom reporting. My hypothesis is that people only notice when we get it wrong, and when they do, they assume we’re trying to get better ratings by publishing lies. This is at the heart of the journalism profession’s slimy reputation.
I’m no angel myself, and my readers rightfully call me out each time I make a mistake. But it’s not that journalists are an especially unethical group. It’s that journalism contains an ethical gray area that few professions do. And each time a journalist begins a new article, sometimes several times a day, she has to reconsider her ethical obligations anew.
Screenshot of my favorite unethical journalist, Niko Ohno, from Engaged to the Unidentified.
5 March 2014 | 6 comments
Perhaps years of journalism have made me a skeptic. I didn’t honestly believe otaku journalists could devote themselves to ANY topic they chose. Simply because, through a mixture of priorities and chance, I haven’t made a career out of purely anime journalism.
But I was proven wrong. Again and again. And to be honest? I want my readers to keep telling me I’m wrong, and that otaku journalists can fight the odds to find success in whatever subject they want to report on.
That was why I was happy to hear from Chang last week. A longtime reader from Georgia, Chang told me he’s read “every piece of advice [I’ve] written” on this blog. I’ve actually written about him on the blog before, anonymously, answering one of his questions to me.
This time, however, Chang had a story for me. Or as he put it, “a progress report on how my path as an otaku journalist has been going:”
“I started on this path by applying to a website when I saw an ad that said they were hiring. It was a website I had frequented for years, and would have loved to be a part of. At the time I had ZERO experience as a journalist, much less an otaku journalist. I wasn’t accepted, and that was about 9 months ago.
“So from there, I started applying to different sites to gather experience for the next time I could apply. I worked for about 4 different websites, kept up my blog, wrote a multitude of articles, interviewed an overseas artist, and attended industry and guest panels for the sake of journalism. All of this was to go back to that site one day, and say, “Look at all this experience! How can you not hire me?!” It’s kind of like one of those corny villains that swear revenge when being defeated by the main character. I put in a lot of hard work, and your advice and website definitely gave me encouragement and the knowledge I needed to move on.
“The website I applied to before was hiring just this month, and I applied once again. That time around I had a good feeling. I felt that I put in a lot of effort compared to the other people that may have applied. I applied and got a reply from them within a day.
“They scheduled an interview a couple of days later. My first interview months ago had me as a nervous wreck, but this time around I felt really calm throughout the whole thing, which surprised me). After the interview was done, I thought that I’d have to wait a couple of weeks to get a reply from them. Surprisingly, I got a reply from them within a few hours and was hired! I was really ecstatic because all my effort really paid off!
“After 9 months, I finally got my first paid gig, and I actually got accepted by a website I really admired! During the interview, they seemed surprised by how much experience I gained during the time since I had last applied, and I thought that this must’ve been the deciding factor. Without a doubt, I am really glad I got into this line of work. Though journalism isn’t my major or main career path, I do hope to continue this work. After all, how could I not love writing about my favorite things in the world?”
As one of my favorite teachers, Alexandra Franzen, puts it, making your dreams come true isn’t rocket science. It’s doing what Chang did and working your butt off for them.
It was nothing more than a demonstrated history of hard work that got Chang his first paying gig. It’s not luck. It’s not being somehow “better” than other people. So let me ask you: what are you doing today to make your dreams a reality tomorrow?
Screenshot from Engaged to the Unidentifed of Niko, my current favorite anime journalist. Can’t vouch for her ethics, but I love her spirit!
3 March 2014 | 1 comment
After Facebook purchased Whatsapp (my response: what’s Whatsapp?), a lot of savvier users than myself began hunting for a new messaging app to use. That’s when Tony told me about LINE, (my response: what’s LINE?), a messaging app that seems perfectly suited to anime and manga otaku interests. As a technology journalist by day, I thought it’d be awesome to introduce some otaku tech to my readers.
Check out Tony’s primer on LINE, what it is, and he, as an otaku, loves to use it:
“Japanese pop culture fans are early tech adopters and passionate. That’s the future.”
If that’s the case, then LINE is the future’s mobile messaging app of choice. Made in Japan, it’s an app that reflects a generation that has grown up with anime and manga fandom via the Internet. It has become a global phenomenon with a user base of over 300 million people across the world.
LINE was originally developed by NHN Japan, the Japanese division of the Korean internet corporation, Naver, in 2011 after the events of the Tohoku earthquake. It was a response to the people of Japan not being able to connect with friends and family members after the tragedy. The service offers free phone, messaging, and video call capabilities.
Since its debut, LINE has grown immensely. It reached 100 million users after only 19 months. 6 months later, it hit 200 million users. Today, users in over 231 countries have adopted LINE.
LINE Corporation hasn’t stopped there. The company opened up a set of stores filled with merchandise starring its mascot characters in certain Asian cities. LINE is one of the top non-game mobile applications on both the App Store and Google Play overseas. The service debuted in the U.S. around January 2013 and is looking to combat Facebook and other social networking services for market share.
When asked what makes LINE popular, almost every user will tell you it’s the stickers. Revolving around a cast of cute and funny mascot characters, the main quartet consists of a rabbit named Cony, a bear named Brown, a round-headed figure named Moon, and a pretty boy named James. All four are given background stories and unique character traits. The sticker sets often portray these characters emoting wildly, so you can use them to express exactly what you mean. This is a sample chat I had with a friend a while ago:
Yes, ending a conversation with a bear that looks like a body pillow is a great way to wish someone good night. The LINE characters also star in two original anime series. While there are emoji and emoticon options on LINE, the stickers are the best way to get your feelings across in the quirkiest and most adorable way possible.
Now here’s the fun part for otaku with smartphones: LINE has stickers featuring anime/manga characters. Attack on Titan is on there, so you can show off your love for someone with a sticker of the Colossal Titan with hearts in his eyes. Old classics like Doraemon are on there as well. Even notable series like Hataraki Man, Initial D, and Thermae Romae have stickers on LINE.
There are a good amount of anime/manga stickers for U.S. audiences. However, some are only available in Asia due to how popular certain series are over there. The best example I can give is Gintama, where there are two sticker sets from Sunrise available only in countries like Malaysia. As a Yorozuya fan, it breaks my heart just like Kondo Isao being rejected by Tae Shimura.
LINE sticker sets don’t come for free, as they are worth about $2 a set and are paid using “coins” as virtual currency. However, LINE does offer a few free starter sets for use. They also have free promotional sticker sets available from time-to-time. I can tell you that the stickers are very addictive to play around with and you might be encouraged to shell out a few bucks for the anime/manga stickers if you become a heavy LINE user.
Another popular feature about LINE are the games. They are free-to-play games that have simple mechanics and design. LINE games are similar to other mobile games out there. Yet why are they downloaded and played a lot? According to Akira Morikawa, CEO of LINE, in VentureBeat:
“For us, our games are casual games, but we try to make sure that they’re attractive enough that they stick with people for a long time. We’re using a system which allows users to compete against their friends. We reset high scores on a weekly basis. In the beginning, many users just enjoy the games alone, but soon they become more competitive, which leads to an expanding user base and eventually increasing revenues.”
I’ve played a few of these games and found them enjoyable. Some of my fellow otaku friends have become addicted. LINE POP, LINE Pokopang, and LINE Bubble, arguably its most popular games, help users build connections and friendly rivalries with their contacts.
There’s also a variety of other fun LINE apps to complement LINE: LINE Camera, LINE Card (an e-card design app), LINE Tools, and even a LINE Antivirus app (only available for Android phones).
I know you may love using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, etc., but for me, LINE is a worthy addition to my internet life. Using LINE makes me feel like a living cartoon character chilling in reality. It speaks to the anime character/otaku in me. We all know Asian media is sometimes an awesome part of a Western otaku’s life and this is another example of it. The U.S. invasion has been slow and steady, but LINE received attention in the American music world when it was featured in Big Sean’s “Guap” music video.
If you want to sum up LINE in a nutshell, it’s Skype evolved. Chat, games, anime/manga stickers with emotion, and free calls—it’s the perfect app to show off your appreciation and passion for your fandom. Long lines may be a pain at anime conventions, but this is one LINE that every otaku will find worth it.
Use LINE? Want to tell Tony what you think of his post? Comment normally, and Tony and I will both be reading the comments. And P.S., if you’ve got an idea for an Otaku Journalist guest post on anime, fandom, subculture, or journalism, send it my way!