Start-ups, Stagnancy, and Story-telling Strategies: Western Business News Writing on Japanese entrepreneurialism
This paper reports research into the written reporting on Japanese entrepreneurialism in western, English-language business news. After explaining the author’s method of sampling from a six-year survey of major-circulation newspapers and business magazines, the project’s main methodology is described – a qualitative form of rhetorical research known as Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA), focused on uncovering and critiquing the ideological biases and presuppositions, both explicit and implicit, in texts such as business news stories. The paper’s following analytic section then applies many of the explained CDA concepts to close discursive analysis of one news article on Japanese entrepreneurialism, randomly selected from a larger set of studied sources, with comparative insights drawn from two other news articles also randomly selected for close analysis.
This illuminates a variety of journalistic shortcomings common in western business journalism on Japan, mostly involving an understated or even surreptitious authorial effort to frame reported issues and events as though the neoliberal demand for Japan’s political-economic westernization – specifically the aspiration towards a ‘Silicon Valley’ model of entrepreneurialism – were the only rational interpretation for readers to adopt. Primary examples include: the attempt to ‘prime’ audience interpretation of reported phenomena and events by exaggerated or false declaratives, in titles or body text, followed by qualifying or corrected statements; an overstated attribution of centrality and causality to the dramatized actions of elite or sympathetic individuals, thereby obscuring broader socio-cultural and political-economic factors and contexts; the use of loaded and euphemistic terms to subtly slant reader comprehension in favour of the author’s overt or underlying propositions; and implied support for criminal or discriminatory behaviour and discourse. The paper’s concluding discussion issues a call for less ideologically and ethnocentrically biased reportage in western business journalism on Japan, whatever the ideology advanced by writers and publishers, and for more variety of perspective and debate.