Wednesday, March 25, 2009

ハプニングズ II: Hiragana Times 原稿 UPDATE!

As I mentioned last entry, partly on a lark and partly as a means of studying and testing my limits, I am hoping to send The Hiragana Times an article on my work as a journalist in Tokyo. Below is the VERY rough draft, which I quickly wrote over the last two days. To put it mildly, it is 片言 (baby talk) in some places and ちんぷんかんぷん (nonsensical) in others. Also, the last couple of paragraphs are yet to be translated. I went over with a native speaker, but I am still wondering if it packs the punch it does in English, especially the opening. Take a look and add your comments, if you like. But be warned: It sucks!


Editor's note: Below is the rewritten final draft that I plan to send to The Hiragana Times. If you happen to see any mistakes, or have any suggestions, please post here. Thanks!


Working for an English-language newspaper in Japan

Three minutes before deadline, we’re scrambling, asking the production guys to make last minute tweaks. Copy editors yelling out from across the office, “there’s a spelling mistake on page 1!” Two minutes. A quick run through of the lede story. It looks good, but another editor yells that he has had an epiphany – a really catchy hed for the sidebar story. The slot editor relents. “Do it, fast,” he says. One minute to deadline. “I’m sending ichimen,” the slot yells. “Any objections?” The newsroom is silent, and the page is sent.


We made deadline. Barely.


Could you feel the adrenaline rush? That kind of energy is present almost everyday in the newsroom where I work. And it is something I thrive on. I’m a newspaper man. But not your average journalist. I work for an English language paper in Japan.



Nearly two years ago, I got my lucky break. In the years before that, I had taught English to children and adults, and even worked at a hot spring resort during my stint in Japan, always yearning to return to my journalistic roots.


After mustering up the courage to speak to the editor-in-chief of the newspaper about possible opportunities, I was surprised to learn that they were hiring. After several treks to interviews in Tokyo from rural Fukushima Prefecture, I got the job.


Nowadays, I’m very happy to be a part of the media. I work on the foreign news desk, the section responsible for a large chunk of my daily newspaper. And although I don’t write any of the articles, I do a job that many say is just as important as reporters – I make the paper readable. I am a copy editor.

現在、僕はマスメディア に関する仕事に就けてとてもうれしく思っている。会社では外信部に所属。新聞のほとんどはそこで作り出す。自分で記事は全く書かないにもかかわらず、僕の 仕事は記者の仕事と同じぐらい大切だと思う。僕の仕事は新聞を読みやすくすることだ。僕は編集者だ。

About a year ago, I took over duties as both a business slot editor and an Asian slot editor. Basically, this means that I sift through an uncountable number of news wire stories, and choose those that are most relevant to our readers. These stories are then sent to other editors on the “rim,” or main copy desk, where they are read for clarity, conciseness, and fact-checked. Then, I will take a look at them again and consult with the editors about headlines. Once that’s done, each is sent to production and put on the page, where we can check the “proof” on paper for any further errors.

約一年前、僕はある意味昇進して、ビジネス編集とともにアジア編集の責任を任された。基本的に言うと、こういう仕事ではニュースワイヤーで夥しい数の記事を読み、面白い記事の中から読者に対して最適な記事を選ぶのだ。その後、リム (編集部) で例の記事を送る。そこで、明瞭さ、簡潔さ、さらに事実確認も行う。それからもう一度僕は読み直す。特に見出しについてはリムの編集者と話し合う。一旦終わったら、製作部が原稿に載せ、プルーフ(プリントアウト)を出す。それを再び読み、間違いを探す。

If there are no mistakes, it’s given to the production department, where Japanese is necessary since none of the staffers speak English. From them, I usually pick up a lot of technical Japanese. Most of the words are used throughout the newspaper industry, but would be jargon to most ears. That said, I also learn quite a bit of slang from the “boys in the pit,” who have a habit of cursing at confounded machines!

間違いがなかったら、原 稿を製作部に渡す。製作部では一人も英語が話せる人がいないから、日本語の知識は必要だ。実をいうと、製作の人からはたくさんの日本語を学ぶことができ る。特に新聞社の専門用語が良く使われている。一般の人には何がなんだか分からない言葉だが、僕にとっては絶好なチャンスだ。その上、古臭い機械にいつも いらいらさせられる「前線のやつ」からも俗語をいっぱい習う!

Finally, once all the kinks are worked out, the page is ready to be sent to the presses.


Working for a paper that is geared mainly toward expats and Japanese readers who want to study English, it is sometimes difficult to juggle my role of finding interesting stories for both audiences. But more often than not, there is a Japan angle to quite a few stories, especially for the business and Asia sections.


A typical day at the Asia desk may find me running a stories about North Korea threatening missile launches, China holding bilateral talks with Japan, or U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton visit with Prime Minister Taro Aso.


What’s not so typical is our newsroom is that most of the reporters are Japanese who speak near flawless English. From the desk chiefs to the lowly copy editors such as myself, English is the language we most often communicate in. So at work, since we speak mostly English, I relish any chances to improve my Japanese.



Anonymous said...






長野 said...

Well, I had no idea my Japanese was so incredibly pathetic. Once I have to improvise my own sentences for communication purposes, I start to look like a complete idiot.

Anyways, I found this blog after some time searching around (Tae Kim's Grammar Guide was a great help) and the Genki series I've been studying is just about exhausted, so this is a great help.

Fortunately, my understanding skills are considerably better than my creative writing skills. It doesn't stop me from looking stupid, but whatever.

So, please help me out if you can. I don't have anyone to speak or write to in Japanese so I figure even just writing in to some blogs would give a great deal of useful experience compared to the self-study I've been doing.

長野 said...

Oh, wonderful. I repeated "great help" in the second paragraph. Now I sound like a public school reject as well.

Wyatt said...

I looks like a bunch of fucking gibberish to me.

長野 said...

I guess that could be because either my sentences were gibberish (and I'm pretty sure they weren't, even if it wasn't exactly high literature) or you don't know Japanese. I'm inclined to think the latter.


Hmm, not really applicable to the situation, I suppose, but was that correct or would there be a better phrase for "pretending to be" than にかこつけて?

jljzen88 said...

Under the pretext of/veil of~

PS- I think Wyatt was talking about my Japanese. He's a friend who doesn't speak it and was just looking at the site.

長野 said...

Understood. In that case, I retract what I said about him seeming to be a troll.

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