Quote from PR agency employee, “Ishikura T.” in Anne Cooper-Chen’s Mass Communications in Japan (bolding mine):
“You CAN be sure of placing materials in small magazines. They willingly accept your news about new products. They like barter: a paid ad in exchange for running editorial copy. But such magazines have little credibility.”
So, here’s the score: We know that the six mainstream Japanese news media sources work together in highly collusive arrangements to standardize news (i.e., the kisha clubs); reporters have allegiance only to their sources (politicans, authority figures) and to their companies rather than with the public; and to top that off, there is absolutely no idea of “journalistic ethics” to the extent that news content is frequently changed to please advertising sponsors and politicians in the ruling party.
With those as the “standards,” the lower media sources — namely, consumer guides and variety television — not only mimic all of the three actions above, but are much worse about it because the editors/producers themselves see their content as frivolous, youth-oriented and unrelated to any political concern.
This would be fine if it weren’t for the fact that the “symbolic economy” has significant influence on our lives. Since the cultural commodities market and corresponding media determine which items litter and decorate the public sphere, companies are always attempting to directly buy up the visual/sensual real estate as much as possible. Total escape from consumer culture means departing society, so our one possible savior is an independent media fighting back for consumers in the symbolic arena. As we’ve seen, the Japanese media’s sole job is to further promote and ultimately legitimize the agenda of the political-economic hegemony. In other words, if their role is to protect and inform consumers/citizens, they are an abject failure.
The United States, unfortunately, is headed down a similar path of media-concentration, collusion, and unethical commercialism. Hopefully the legal and cultural barriers preventing the commercial world from totally devouring ideas of independent media power will stay intact, but they must resist mounting pressure from those with money and authority, who aim to remove every hurdle towards total commercialization.