Hayashi Kaori 林香里
Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten 岩波書店, 2011, 227 pages
Journalism for Justice with Ethics of Care
Reviewed by Lee Misook (PhD candidate, Department of Socio-information and Communication Studies, University of Tokyo; HYI Visiting Fellow 2012-13)
Kaori Hayashi is a professor of Mass Media and Journalism Studies at the University of Tokyo, specializing in Japan’s newspaper and broadcasting media, cross-national news media analysis, and alternative journalism. In Journalism of “Women/Children” with Ethics of Care, Hayashi sheds light on journalistic practices that are sensitive to the needs of the socially weak and that advocate on their behalf. These practices, she argues, have not yet been evaluated fairly in the journalism scholarship. Traditionally, this scholarship has focused primarily on “mass media journalism,” which is rooted in liberalism and takes objectivity, neutrality, and impartiality as its core principles. However, Hayashi poses the question of why – despite the many changes in liberalism and challenges to it by feminism, commutarianism, and multiculturalism – journalism scholarship has not escaped from the liberalism-based “mass media journalism” paradigm. Hayashi’s project aims to articulate a “journalism of care,” sensitive to and advocating for the excluded and weak, and taking the ethics of care as an alternative journalistic ethic. This “journalism of care,” she argues, is not meant to replace “mass media journalism,” but rather to innovate upon it.
Journalism of “Women/Children” with Ethics of Care consists of eight chapters. The book’s main argument regarding the “journalism of care” unfolds in the first and second chapters – “Journalism of Women/Children” and “Journalism of Care.” In the first chapter, Hayashi conceptualizes “mass media journalism” somewhat symbolically as the “journalism of men.” In the name of objectivity, neutrality, and impartiality, “mass media journalism” is in fact inclined to confirm and reproduce existing power relations and unequal social structures. Meanwhile, Hayashi conceptualizes grassroots (alternative) journalistic practices that incorporate the excluded or omitted perspectives of the social weak as the “journalism of women/children.” By identifying with the excluded, journalism can work for social change, and in some cases, even save lives. Hayashi emphasizes that her concepts of “journalism of men” and “journalism of women/children” are not about a sexual division, but rather, a difference in the ethics upon which they are based. In the second chapter, Hayashi applies the ethics of care – one of the main counterarguments to liberalism – in attempting to explain the basic ethics of the “journalism of women/children.” The ethics of care, she points out, emphasize connection, solidarity, inclusion, and a sense of responsibility. On the other hand, ethics of justice (liberalism) emphasize autonomous individuality, detachment from others, and order of priority. Hayashi uses case studies to argue that the practices of the “journalism of women/children (journalism of care)” should be recognized as a form of journalism and a subject of scholarly inquiry.
The third and fourth chapters advance Hayashi’s arguments on the ethics of care by focusing on the limitations of “mass media journalism” and the role of alternative media. In the third chapter, “Virtues and Sins of Journalism Rooted in US Liberalism,” Hayashi critiques “mass media journalism” on two grounds. First, its basis in utilitarianism, she argues, renders it vulnerable to “national interest.” Second, its division of value and fact, she points out, manifests itself in Japan in the form of blind “fact-following.” In her fourth chapter, “Is Alternative Media Public?” Hayashi uses Beck’s reflexive modernization and subpolitics, Habermas’ public sphere, and Luhmann’s conception of social movements and the alternative in locating alternative media not as a substitute for mass media, but rather as a core player in the formation of public opinion in contemporary society.
Hayashi’s fifth chapter, “Journalism and Women,” investigates how the media market has mobilized women as consumers and as journalists. Her sixth and seventh chapters, “The Non-regular Employee in the Media Business” and “Journalist as Professionals” deal with the problem of growing non-regular employees/freelancers in Japanese media and the need for journalists to form solidarity beyond their respective companies as members of a professional class. Finally, Hayashi’s eighth chapter, “From ‘Publicness’ to ‘Solidarity’,” argues that the term publicness is often used without concrete content, even as it has frequently been invoked in describing the problems of Japanese mass media through slogans such as “we need to recover the publicness of broadcasting.” She argues that this abstract word can be expressed more meaningfully as “solidarity.” In forming solidarity between society and media, Kaori argues that a “journalism of care” is needed.
Although this book deals with a variety of issues, such as non-regular workers in media, women in media, and journalism as a profession, these issues all converge into arguments of the ethics of care in media, journalism, and society. Solidarity, sense of connection, mutual dependence, and responsibility are the core values of the ethics of care and the “journalism of care.” By applying the ethics of care to the journalistic practices of “journalism of women/children,” which have not yet been evaluated fairly in mainstream journalism, Hayashi urges reflection on “mass media journalism” and broadens journalism studies beyond scholarship mainly focusing on liberalism-based “mass media.”
However, the book’s pioneering arguments might have benefited from more analytical support. First, Hayashi argues that the “journalism of care” is especially effective for “the absolute weak.” Although the argument as a whole is persuasive, her definition of “the absolute weak” remains blurry. The question may arise of to what extent the “journalism of care” can work for the social and political weak when their needs require the transformation of national and social structures. Second, Hayashi argues that the “journalism of care” is not a replacement or substitute for “mass media journalism,” but is rather a tool for the innovation of mainstream journalism. But one wonders if in its focus on the absolute weak, the “journalism of care” might be seen as a substitute for mass media journalism, functioning as a philanthropic gesture making up for the deficit of mass media journalism attention.
Hayashi’s work provides a new perspective in Japanese journalism studies, arguing that journalism –a fundamental part of democracy and social justice – is not accomplished by mass media journalism alone, and that justice may be achieved through a “journalism of care.” How, then, might a “journalism of care,” instead of just compensating for the lack of attention from mass media journalism, problematize and transform the social structure that reproduces the exclusion of the weak? Deeper arguments on these fronts are needed in today’s journalism studies.