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2015, Aug 24
“Fact checking” as “censorship” in Japanese art magazines

I came across a post by a Japanese art critic that relates a frustrating experience with some prominent art magazines in Japan. I’m reproducing and translating this post with permission, which is why proper names have been omitted.

Under the guise of “fact checking,” magazines like [X] and [Y] have been showing unpublished drafts of criticism to the subjects of the articles. This practice is becoming more prevalent.

Of course, this is not simply about checking facts; the content itself will always be checked, and if there is something that the subject does not like, reprisal can be taken by refusing to supply photographs to be published with the article, or something similar. In other words, “fact checking” is nothing other than censorship.

On this point, publications like [A] and [B] are respectable: here, even if there is a factual error, the author takes responsibility. On principle, the article will be published without a prior check of any sort.

Because of “fact checking,” the subject of the article will always complain about expressions or opinions they don’t like (criticism, in other words). Like a child on an errand, the idiotic editor brings these complaints back to the critic; this is incredibly displeasurable.

In my limited experience working for a Japanese photography magazine, it seemed to me that even if it had wanted to, it was more or less unable to publish critical writing because this would not sit well with the advertisers. (Whether it actually wanted to publish critical writing is another question.)

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