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In Pursuit of Excellent Journalism
-The Course of the Waseda Journalism Award-

Takeshi Kodama
Bureau Chief
Waseda Journalism Award In Memory of Ishibashi Tanzan

Over the last dozen years, it has been apparent to all that journalism is facing imminent danger. Further, this was followed closely by the tumultuous wave of global financial instability resulting from the collapse of Lehman Brothers in September of last year.

Just as with ordinary companies, newspapers, television stations, publishers, and the entire mass media industry were hit hard, and journalism has in turn been significantly affected. It is not only over the last year or two that advertising revenues have been collected from the mass media. The economic slump in publishing is chronic. Of course it is not just that the circulation is stagnant for many print media outlets-not only for books, but also for general interest magazines and weekly magazines-they are undeniably on the verge of the worst-case scenarios of suspended publication and closing operations. The situation of the mass media reflects the reality that the very economic structure supporting journalism is in imminent danger.

Stagnation is deepening in society. Traditionally favored business models are threatened, regional towns and cities face devastating conditions, and the public cannot escape a persistent sense of confusion. Under such conditions, we are likely to lose even our sense of direction.

So what should we do about journalism? How should it be? God in heaven might look down and observe that the current situation for journalism is as precarious as a kite flying in the sky.

Approaching a Decade of the Waseda Journalism Award

The Waseda Journalism Award In Memory of Ishibashi Tanzan was established in 2001.

This year marked a vital period of change, as we stepped out into the 21st century. We at Waseda University-which had produced a great many journalists since its inception-were acutely aware that the challenging and turbulent social conditions of the day called for independent journalism which surpassed the reporting of the so-called mass media, and we regarded this as an urgent matter.

In short, the award was created to embrace the progressive spirit, never indulging trends, getting back to the ideological roots upon which the university was founded, wrestling with the difficult issues of the day. This is why we have pooled our resources at the university, garnered considerable outside support, and assumed responsibility to host and administer this award.

As indicated by its auspicious name, the award was founded in honor of-and based on the ideas and remarkable wisdom of-Ishibashi Tanzan, an esteemed graduate of Waseda University who became an outstanding journalist and politician who further served as prime minister. In fact, Tanzan voiced his opinion from the Taisho period through the Showa period that Japan should be a peaceful, neighborly, and economically oriented nation rather than a colonial nation. Termed Small Japanism (shonihonshugi), Tanzan's push for a non-colonial orientation for Japan is still highly regarded today. Fortunately, the award was received well by contemporary journalists among all media outlets, and it has become well known in recent years.

This year's recipients and selection committee, President of Waseda University Katsuhiko Shirai, and university personnel (At the Awards Ceremony on November 6)

The award has recognized the outstanding achievements of individual journalists across a broad range or fields. Among these there are three sections, namely: fifteen awards in the Public Service Section, five awards in Grass Roots Democracy Section, six awards in the Cultural Contribution Section, and a total of seven other incentive awards. Since there are also many team awards (for groups of reporters), there have already been over 100 award recipients.

In terms of journalism awards, the Japan Newspaper Publishers & Editors Association Award and awards in related fields such as the Oya Soichi Nonfiction Award and the Kodansha Nonfiction Award are also well known, but ours is the only journalism award in the nation that is hosted and administered by a university.

The Pulitzer Prize is a prestigious award with a rich tradition which has been awarded to many journalists, writers, and photographers and is administered by Columbia University in the United States. When we announced the establishment of the Waseda Journalism Award, some newspapers described it as: an award approaching the Japanese version of the Pulitzer Prize, and this is certainly true, considering that it is also an award that recognizes journalists including nonfiction writers and photographers and is hosted as well as administered by a university.

An award supported by tradition and passion

We have been able to welcome an exceptionally esteemed group of people on the selection committee for the Waseda Journalism Award, including our colleagues within the university, of course, but especially from outside of the university as well. Our distinguished panel has included such members as Toshio Hara (former president of Kyodo News)-who had already retired but became a member from the inception of the panel-Katsuto Uchihashi (economic analyst), Masakazu Yamazaki (playwright, critic), as well as the late Hayao Kawai (psychologist), who served on the selection committee from the very first year until he served as the Director of the Agency for Cultural Affairs.

The original design for the award medal was done by master artist Ikuo Hirayama. None of the selection committee members is from Waseda University, and it goes without saying that it is the opinions and passion of the current members that make the award what it is.

Memorial Award Medal (Front: Ishibashi Tanzan Portrait, Back: Latin lettering around an image of Okuma Hall, which means: Truth fears nothing but concealment)

Looking back on it, Waseda alumni were above all active in journalism as soon as the school was founded. The gap between literary people and journalists was narrow on the way to modernization, during the Meiji Period. Waseda alum Masamune Hakucho was also in the Waseda University Press and joined the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper in 1903-four years before Soseki Natsume joined the Asahi Shimbun newspaper-and wrote an incisive column. Utsubo Kubota was also on the Yomiuri staff. Prior to that, in 1900, Doppo Kunikida worked as a reporter covering politics and diplomacy for the Hochi Shimbun newspaper as well.
Further excellent journalists continued to appear one after another in the Taisho and Showa periods. Perhaps this is tradition. It is a personal anecdote, but around 1960 I had the pleasure of hearing about the period of newspaper reporters from both Professor Hakucho and Professor Utsubo at their homes, experiences which I still treasure today.

Conveying the spirit of the journalist

Recipients of the Waseda Journalism Award are requested to give lectures centering on the reporting process to our university students. Since 2002, we have offered a commemorative lecture as an interdisciplinary course entitled News Changes Society-Reporting Process Studies. Enrollment demand is extremely high for this prominent and popular course, with many times more students applying than can be enrolled, and those who have already earned credits and graduated have gone on to begin as fledgling journalists.

We are also publishing the fifth volume of the lecture transcript series (Waseda University Press), and on November 6, the day that the Awards ceremony for this year was held, the 2009 edition entitled "Visualization" Journalists was published. These pages should serve as a clarion call for journalists to hold core principles and to break through the stagnation in society today.

Last but not least, we are holding Photo Journalism Festivals in collaboration with Days Japan, and we are holding planning exhibitions and talk sessions for the Waseda Journalism Awards as well.

The planning exhibitions will comprise panel exhibitions following the course of previous Journalism Awards and talk sessions featuring members of the Waseda Journalism Award Selection Committee, such as Takenori Tanuma; Ryuichi Hirokawa, representative of Days Japan as well as the recipient of the 2nd Journalism Award; Mizue Furui, recipient of the 6th Journalism Award; and other distinguished photojournalists who are invited to expound on the current state of photojournalism, based on the theme of: A Single Photo Changes Society. If you can find the time, we cordially welcome you to join us and look forward to seeing you there.

Takeshi Kodama
Bureau Chief, Waseda Journalism Award In Memory of Ishibashi Tanzan; Senior Councilor, Waseda University Public Relations Department

Mr. Kodama was born in Tokyo in 1938 and grew up in Kobe and Yokohama. He graduated with an undergraduate degree from the Department of Education at Waseda University, and then joined Suntory Limited in 1962 [named Kotobukiya until 1963] and was assigned to the advertising department. Mr. Kodama served in a range of posts including head of public relations and chief of cultural affairs. He served in editing the magazine Liquor Heaven (Yoshutengoku), and in 1979, Mr. Kodama was both Founder and Chief Editor of the Suntory Quarterly. He served three terms over six years as Executive Editor of TBS Britannica. Mr. Kodama served as Senior Councilor in the Waseda University Public Relations Department from March of 2000, and was in charge of Public Relations Theory and Network Organization Theory as a lecturer in the Department of Education until March of 2008. Mr. Kodama is a member of the Conference on Work Efficiency Studies, a permanent member of Alban Berg Gesellschaft Japan, and a member of the Japan Writers' Association (Essayist).
Mr. Kodama's primary works include 'Yoshutengoku' and that Period (Chikuma Shobo, Ltd.)-for which he received the 24th Sakunosuke Oda Award-and 'Man in Charge': Hitomi Yamaguchi's Savoir Faire (Chikuma Shobo, Ltd.), as well as contributions in pieces such as Public Relations Strategies in the Digital Age (Waseda University Press).