Japan's heroic hostage
Aljazeera keeps up its good reporting on East Asia with a piece from a few days ago by Gavin Blair on the Japanese hostage Akihiko Saito, who was recently found dead in Iraq.
The reporter points up the glaring difference between his glorification in the Japanese media and the vilification of the three hostages who returned to Japan unharmed last year. Akihiko Saito was a private security officer [read: mercenary] whereas the 2004 hostages were NGO workers and a photojournalist. Sort that one out.
As I've mentioned before, Asano Kenichi of Doshisha University called the treatment of the three 2004 hostages a 'media bludgeoning'. Something of a contrast with the latest hostage who was working for a British security firm and was a veteran of the Foreign Legion. Nonetheless, the Japanese media found this far more acceptable:
...the media has been keen to establish the distinction between professionals such as Saito or the SDF, and "misguided do-gooders" such as the three taken hostage last year.
The Sankei newspaper, in an editorial about Saito, said: "This is very different from previous abduction cases as Mr Saito is a trained professional with much experience."
To be honest, Aljazeera might be part of the mainstream media, but its English website is providing some of the sort of journalism that we should be hoping for from the non-mainstream media. Journalism that is questioning, rigourous but not afraid to be partisan (of course the mainstream media is partisan it just tries to pretend it's not by hiding behind the ideology of 'balance').