Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Mea culpa Monday: Tuesday technical problem edition

By Joe Uchill
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If you have never heard of Mainichi Shimbun, you are (a) unaware that the Japanese Newspaper is the fourth largest in the world and (b) not a big fan of stories about odd Japanese sex practices. The English site, called the Mainichi Daily News, was until recently the home of WaiWai, the western world’s primary news source for stories about the hippest new trends in prostitution, restaurants that allowed bestiality and the secret goings on of Japanese housewives. But the story “More moms going down, to ensure grades go up” didn’t run in Japanese – the homeland edition focused on actual journalism completely separate from the WaiWai columns. Last week Mainichi Shimbun acknowledged that the differences were more than those of taste. WaiWai achieved maximum salaciousness by printing unverifiable, frequently untrue, information.

WaiWai was a noble concept. In 1989, MDN decided to synopsize and translate articles from other Japanese newsweeklies to provide English speakers with a slice of Japanese life. As time progressed, and as MDN became an online-only enterprise, editorial shifts diverted attention to Mainichi Shimbun proper. The only person minding WaiWai was Aulstralian-national Ryann Connell and a team of English speaking copy editors outside of Japan. There was ( For which Mainichi Shimbun has now apologized) no fact checking of other paper’s articles, no one making sure that Connell wasn’t adding inaccuracies of his own to the translations, and no protection for the source material from copyright violations. Everything that could go wrong did.

Connell ensured the popularity of his column by translating the stories that guaranteed international readership. But article after article about restaurants that allowed bestiality with an evening’s menu provide a fairly inaccurate portrait of Japan. Even without knowledge of the fact checking flaws, the image MDN created of Mainichi Shimbum’s primary audience cost the newspaper at least one major ad contract.

Admitting complete fault, and providing a thorough investigation into what went wrong, MDN has announced a complete relaunch of the site. This time it will sport translations of highly regarded opinion pieces. So, for one last time, titter at how wacky those foreigners are. Even if they really aren’t.

A list of past WaiWai subjects compiled by Truth about Japan (grammatical oddities theirs):

• "More moms going down, to ensure grades go up!"
• Japanese housewives do prostitution in the coin shower in suburbs.
• The nurse in Japan is lewder than the prostitute.
• 55% of the women in Japan sleep with men on the day at the first time of meet.
• Japanese teens are screwing like rabbits on viagra.
• The latest Japanese fad: hiring 70-year-old prostitutes.
• Also pre-teen prostitutes are still finding work in Japan.
• Japanese high school girls no-panty, just for kicks.
• Fast food sends schoolgirls into sexual feeding frenzy.
• There is a bestiality restaurant in Tokyo.

 

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