LEARN­INGS from Ohito Times

Sun.Star Davao - - PULLOUT! - BY ACE JUNE RELL S. PERZ / Edi­tor

Jour­nal­ists can learn a lot from a com­mu­nity news­pa­per and Ohito Times has proven that.

Part of the of­fi­cial ac­tiv­i­ties of this year’s Ja­pan-East Asia Net­work of Ex­change for Stu­dents and Youths ( Je­nesys) 2018: Youth Ex­change Pro­gram for Me­dia In­dus­try is a visit to a com­mu­nity news­pa­per in Nagano pre­fec­ture, Ja­pan – Ohito Times.

The Philip­pine del­e­gates, com­posed of 15 young jour­nal­ists and com­mu­ni­ca­tion stu­dents, were able to meet the com­pany’s pres­i­dent Misao Mizukubo and ex­changed ideas on how a lo­cal me­dia out­fit can play a role in com­mu­nity build­ing.

“The most im­por­tant role of com­mu­nity-based me­dia is act­ing as the keeper of democ­racy. Free­dom of speech is the very foun­da­tion of a free coun­try. Also, if there is an is­sue in your com­mu­nity, try to fa­cil­i­tate dif­fer­ent opin­ions from the peo­ple and help in find­ing a so­lu­tion,” he said in Ni­hongo.

He em­pha­sized that the me­dia should act as link be­tween peo­ple and the gov­ern­ment.

Mizukubo also shared that one strength of a com­mu­nity news­pa­per is it deals more with lo­cal is­sues which af­fect more the peo­ple they are serv­ing. Lo­cal news and is­sues come first be­fore the na­tional mat­ters.

Mean­while, decade-long jour­nal­ist Kay­ori Uchiyama also shared how she does her work ef­fec­tively as a com­mu­nity jour­nal­ist.

“I re­late more to what­ever lo­cal is­sues our com­mu­nity is fac­ing, be­cause I am a res­i­dent my­self. This makes me more ef­fec­tive as a jour­nal­ist,” she said in Ni­hongo. Uchiyama cov­ered var­i­ous events in their com­mu­nity in­clud­ing a dev­as­tat­ing earth­quake which also de­stroyed her home.

Uchiyama un­der­scored that in cov­er­ing events, she al­ways goes for de­vel­op­men­tal news in or­der to give read­ers a break from a world filled with bad news.

An­other thing del­e­gates learned from the visit is how the com­pany is still fo­cus­ing its ef­forts in printed ma­te­ri­als than dig­i­tal.

Mizukubo said that though they have on­line pres­ence, ma­jor­ity of the Ja­panese es­pe­cially in Nagano still pre­fer to read print.

He said that as jour­nal­ists, medium shouldn’t be a fo­cus but the dis­ci­pline.

“To re­main in the game, the me­dia should be an opin­ion leader and should re­flect the voice of the res­i­dents in a com­mu­nity,”

Ohito Times op­er­ates in Omachi Town, Nagano Pre­fec­ture since 1927. It prints some 13,000 copies six times a week.

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