As many readers will know, apart from publishing this magazine, I also write a weekly column (48 times a year for the last 11 years) called Terrie’s Take. Writing this column takes dedication and forbearance—the dedication not to do a ‘couch potato’ impression on Sunday nights, and forbearance from the family not to intrude while “Daddy is writing his newsletter.”
But writing a regular missive like the Take is good for the brain. I am forced to be alert for trends and events, then interpret why they happened and the mechanisms behind those changes. This makes me a better businessperson, and gives my management team confi dence that the company is being reasonably well steered around the macro changes in the market.
My self-imposed weekly study sessions in particular help me stay ahead of changes going on in the media space. The overarching trend is of course the emergence of user-generated content, whether in the form of SNS sites such as Facebook and Mixi, media sites such as Youtube, auction sites such as Yahoo Japan, or the approximately 44 million blog sites which the Japanese love so much.
Several months ago, I was asked by a local journalist if user-provided content would ring the death knell for conventional media and in particular the jobs of editors and journalists. My answer was that rather than replace the arbiters of subject matter, quality, and tone (I.e., your humble editorial staff), the fl ood of new content actually requires more services from these people than ever before.
The fact is that while user-generated content provides tremendous breadth and color, it can at worst be malicious hearsay and often at best be lazy commentary with little attempt at balance or accuracy. Further, because user commentary is so diverse, doing an Internet search for a particular topic can be very slow going—which of course is why Wikipedia has been so successful— because it fuses editors and policy with the chaos of user content.
A publication is generally read because it is authoritative and dependable. The brand name is a beacon of trust, the content is well defined, and the conclusions of its writers are useful and dependable. It is for this reason that J@pan Inc, and over time our other media properties, will continue to ensure that rather than free-for-all user-generated content, we will continue to have editors involved in the provision of our content.
This doesn’t mean to say that we won’t develop forums for readers to provide open commentary and feedback. Far from it, we have already started with feedback fl ow to Anna Kitanaka’s regular blog/column on www.japaninc.com From hereon, as our various media start/renew their websites, we plan to broaden our editors’ solicitation and moderation of such user input, with all its interesting diversity, and knit this content flow into a coherent and trustworthy new media platform.