TokyoProgressive has been in existence in various incarnations since 1997. Originally conceived as a tool to help Japanese students of English and alternative media develop critical literacy skills, it has developed into a resource for promoting a democratic media. This is a sometimes ambiguous term that includes liberating information withheld or distorted by the corporate media. It also means understanding that all media, including TokyoProgressive, is biased and that objectivity is a myth.
ALTERNATIVES TO JAPANESE MAINSTREAM MEDIA
As a web site based in Japan we are aware that, when compared to the situation in many countries, Japan is woefully deficient in alternatives to corporate media. (Note that we include so-called public media like NHK in our definition of “corporate media” given their bias, which is firmly in the government-corporate camp despite the occasional good story or social issues piece.) There are some alternative sources of information, but even so, they tend to be tied to political parties or single issues groups, and–like much of the alternative media outside Japan–their stories are not often as rigorously checked as they should be. Media such as these, including IndyMedia Japan (which TokyoProgressive helped to establish), are best at promoting social change by giving a voice to the wide variety of viewpoints that challenge the mainstream stranglehold on news and information serving to maintain the status quo. They do not, however, focus on presenting hard news, and unlike The New Standard, we do not have the resources to present that kind of coverage ourselves. Therefore we are compelled to search far and wide for stories and analyses.
but like them, we believe that despite our own activism, news coverage should be presented in a non-ideological format because, as
The New Standard says, “ideology can often obscure fairness and accuracy” and we should always be skeptical when any story appears “sympathetic to particular
sources or positions.”
Finally, there is another reason for this approach, which should be of concern to anyone involved in alternative media, and that is that we want the news and commentary to be accessible to those readers who are turned off by the tone and rhetoric of most alternative media. This flows out of the same philosophy we embrace in education, that people should be encouraged to reach their own conclusions, not have those conclusions drawn for them. Good education liberates, and so does good media. That is why, though we may have no choice but to reference a story that contradicts our own philosophy by being too overbearing or speculative, we intend to
encourage skeptism and further inquiry in our accompanying commentary.