K J #4 6 : M E D I A I N A S I A
smoke and mirrors
Aeons ago, live and on-the-air, the first encoded smoke curled aloft.
Now electrons and waves, no less natural if invisible, encircle the globe with stories, music, ads, news and chat.
From the outset we must have quibbled over how to shape the smoke, and which tidings to include or to leave out.
Today, online or in print, on radio, TV or silver screen, we’re beset with — now and then saved by — a twin barrage of forces.
Outwardly, we face commercial structures, legal strictures, the arm of government, fixed agendas, conventional formulas, technological change. We meet time pressures, subterfuge, peers and overseers, history and political winds.
Inwardly, we wrestle with character and talent, personality and passion, forgetfulness, curiosity, the seductive force of habit. Our ethics and morals may be kindled or clouded by credos, skewed by prejudice, blotted out by ignorance or greed.
We who work in media are among those souls whose perceptions of life are shaped by what media does. If in the past the media was often likened to a mirror, then today it is a hall of mirrors, multiplying to infinity. Yet a single looking-glass can still turn our focus inward upon ourselves and our calling, and spur the process of deep reflection.
In the print and online pages of this special issue of Kyoto Journal, media professionals tell inside stories about the realities which they and others construct in and about the countries and cultures of Asia. They scrutinize how Asian media, and Western media involved here, operate to serve or harm the public good, and how they themselves are swayed or hold their ground. They chart a changing landscape, wherein the top-down paradigm is both propagating and being undermined. They weigh the present, forsee the future, reflect historically on the past. And their criticisms, though often harsh, do not diminish their love for the work they do.
At Kyoto Journal, we are well aware of how blessedly autonomous our magazine is from many of the pressures that weigh so heavily on our colleagues in the media. We are all volunteers, backed by a hands-off sponsor. We publish quarterly, unconstrained by the profit imperative that drives the civic religion we know as the global market. KJ, for us, is not a living; it is a life. Throughout its 15 years as a non-profit adventure, KJ has enriched our hearts and minds, and, we hope, those of our readers.
Yet our magazine’s autonomy also thrusts upon us a chance denied to many others, and the Internet now empowers us, even on our shoestring budget, to reach out to a dozen countries and find — or be found by — the writers and artists gathered here.
What they see in the mirror concerns us all.
Drawings: Thierry Le
Local Asia Online:
Bangladesh | Burma | Cambodia | China | India | Indonesia | Japan | Korea
Laos | Malaysia | Mongolia | Nepal | Pakistan | Singapore | Sri Lanka | Taiwan
Thailand | The Philippines | Tibet | Timor | Vietnam