Uchida, Y.（内田由紀子）, Kanagawa, C.（金川智恵）, Takenishi, A.（竹西亜古）, Harada, A., Okawa, K., Yabuno, H. (2015). How Did the Media Report on the Great East Japan Earthquake? Objectivity and Emotionality Seeking in Japanese Media Coverage. 東日本大震災をメディアはどう伝えたか PLoS ONE, 10(5): e0125966. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0125966
The Great East Japan Earthquake was a tragic event requiring critical media involvement. Since the media played an important role in conveying factual information, journalists expressed feeling that it was difficult to guarantee the objectivity of their coverage. As media coverage constructs a socio-culturally shared reality among its audience, an examination of the objectivity and emotionality of the contents of the news coverage is needed. In Study 1, we conducted an exploratory content analysis of TV and newspaper coverage from the six month period following the March 11, 2011 disaster, finding that the news media generally reported neutral and objective factual information about the event, with emotionality shown only in the commentary. In order to examine how media coverage was constructed and evaluated by journalists, in Study 2 we conducted an online survey of 115 journalists working for mass media organizations. We found that that the journalists’ orientations tended to be more objective than emotional, which is consistent with the findings of Study 1. However, their evaluations of the objectivity of the published articles were low, especially for the coverage of the nuclear power plant accident, which was an accident of an unprecedented nature. The negative emotions that journalists experienced during their investigations negatively affected subsequent evaluations of the objectivity of their reporting.