Mr. Tsuyoshi Uchiyama
Editor-in-Chief of Campal, the Mainichi Newspapers
Reporter for the Mainichi Newspapers, reporter for the weekly magazine Sunday Mainichi, deskman for the economic magazine Economist, producer and newscaster for BS11 television—Tsuyoshi Uchiyama, currently a member of the editorial committee at the Mainichi Newspapers, has experienced all of the major professions in mass media. Uchiyama graduated from the Chuo University Faculty of Economics in 1983. After 30 years working as a reporter, he is now an editor-in-chief of Campal, a feature providing information for university students. A feature page is run every week in the Friday evening edition (within the Tokyo Head Office district) and once in every month in the Tuesday morning edition. The title Campal is taken from the words: campus and pal (Spanish meaning a friend). Uchiyama discussed working in the mass media, as well as the temperament of students both in the past and in the present.
Admiring the white campus
――Before we discuss creating a newspaper with information for university students, could you talk a little bit about your own experience at university?
Uchiyama answers questions from a student reporter. The interview was held in the editorial committee office, a room stacked with materials.
“I wanted to enter Chuo University because I was enamored with the white school buildings and vast campus. I took entrance examinations for the Faculty of Law, Faculty of Economics and Faculty of Commerce. Although the Faculty of Law was my first choice, I ended up studying in the Faculty of Economics, which was my second choice. I was part of the 2nd graduating class from Tama Campus. At that time, I reached the campus which I admired so much by transferring to a bus from Tama Center. Commuting to university was inconvenient, but I was so excited. It was the perfect environment for studying.”
――What were you passionate about when you were a student?
“I was engrossed in university seminars. In economic policy seminars, I studied about welfare policy, which was the subject of great interest at that time. There were many seminars for 3rd-year and 4th-year students. Regarding club activities, I entered Group H, which was composed of students who sought careers in mass media. I listened to current and former mass media professionals speak at venues such as Ladrio Café in Jinbocho. I studied with other club members at university and we sometimes went drinking together. My greatest treasure from 4 years at university is the friends that I made. Even after 30 years, I still keep in touch with my friends and we even run marathons together.”
――Why did you decided to become a reporter?
“My desire to work in mass media wasn’t entirely set in stone. However, my sense of justice seems to be stronger than most people. I feel that my personality of condemning injustice led me to becoming a reporter. My family in Niigata had subscribed to the Mainichi Newspapers ever since my grandfather’s generation. Indeed, the only newspaper in our house was the Mainichi Newspapers! When I was in my 4th-year at university, students began visiting corporations in October to search for employment. Mass communication companies held written examinations in November. I remember studying for those written examinations while hearing how my other friends had already received job offers from ordinary corporations. In the end, the Mainichi Newspapers was a perfect match for me. At the time of examinations, I went very early to the company to perform registration procedures and my examination number was No. 1. After receiving a formal job offer, I remember an employee of Mainichi’s personnel department telling me that no students with the examination number No. 1 had passed for several years. I remember breaking into a cold sweat at the time!”
Difference between newspapers and weekly magazines
――What work made a lasting impression on you?
Mainichi Newspapers Building
“I spent my first 4 and a half years working at the Mainichi Newspapers Yamagata Branch. I was then transferred to Sunday Mainichi magazine. It was a bolt out of the blue. Because I thought that I must not refuse the transfer, I accepted it. It was at Sunday Mainichi that I learned the difference between a newspaper and a weekly magazine. Newspaper reporting consists of visiting police departments and carrying the news or not. The gist of a newspaper article can be roughly understood by reading the headline and lead. Newspaper reporters are taught to write in such a way. Conversely, weekly magazines are not focused on writing about tomorrow’s news today. Instead, magazine writers create articles to be enjoyed by readers. Magazine articles invite readers through introductions which contain a scene or line from famous movies or novels. Magazine writers must learn new things everyday in order to write articles. The length of magazine articles also increased to 4 times of the articles which I wrote for newspapers. I guess I was under a lot of stress. I woke up every morning to find my pajamas soaked with sweat. The editor-in-chief at that time was Shuntaro Torigoe, who later moved to television and was successful as a newscaster. The associate editor was Taro Maki, who challenged taboo through work including a series criticizing the Aum Shinrikyo cult. Maki suffered a stroke which paralyzed the right side of his body and inflicted him with aphasia. I heard a story about how Maki tried to cross the Ginza intersection by himself one month after leaving the hospital. He struggled to move his paralyzed right leg. His book I Want to Die as a Newspaper Reporter (Chuko Shinsho) contains the following line: “Just when I saw the light turn red…my legs froze.” Through dauntless effort, Maki returned to society the following year. He still writes columns even today. Both Torigoe and Maki were very demanding. Torigoe taught me how to write articles for a weekly magazine, while Maki showed me how a man should live.”
Afterwards, he worked at the Osaka City News Department, the Takamatsu Branch, Sunday Mainichi, the Business News Department at the Tokyo Head Office, the Shizuoka Branch news desk, the magazine Economist, the Tokyo Business News Department, economics desk at the Chubu Head Office, and the Tokyo Business News Department before being assigned to BS11 (Nippon BS Broadcasting Corporation) and becoming a producer. He also worked as a newscaster as part of creating news programs.
Shatter myths of searching for employment
――It must have been difficult to have transferred and relocated so many times!
“I guess I’m used to it!”
――What is Campal?
“Campal has existed for 25 years. It is my 4th year being involved with the feature. Initially, I was a bit skeptical about working together with students. However, once I became involved in the feature, I was surprised at its power. There are students who are struggling with finding employment, as well as students who are totally committed to their studies, club activities or NPO activities. There is real information at universities. I don’t have to depend on sources like a press club and government offices—the spirit of my writing is right before my eyes. Until now, newspapers didn’t introduce much information on university students. Personally, I didn’t directly talk with students. I decided to devote the second half of my reporting career to news for students. After having experienced newspapers, weekly magazines and television, I believe that only I am capable of such work for students.”
――There seem to be a lot of articles on searching for employment.
A Must-Read for Parents! Employment Searches Full of Mistakes—By Student Reporters (Mainichi Newspapers Publishing)
“I have written about actual experiences of students. They are told to wear a black suit, put their hair in a bun and read the Nikkei (Nihon Keizai Shimbun)—but is that really what they need to do? I felt strong doubt upon seeing my son fail to find employment after graduating university. There is not enough information on searching for employment. This lack of information makes it impossible for parents to understand why their children failed to receive a job offer and why he or she is a jobless university graduate. There are many parents in this position. As both a reporter and a parent, I wanted to help students who are searching for employment. Therefore, I started the “Front Line of Employment Search” on the Campal page. I also decided to reach out to student reporters and publish a book that would shatter the myths of searching for employment.”
The resulting book was A Must-Read for Parents! Employment Searches Full of Mistakes—By Student Reporters (Mainichi Newspapers Publishing, 880 yen), which was released throughout Japan on May 23rd.
――Could you describe the book’s contents?
“First, I want readers to realize that employment rumors and so-called common sense are completely groundless. Based on that realization, the book proposes searching for employment through independent thinking. I recommend reading the section on female university students. It is really difficult for female students to find employment. Corporations are reluctant to hiring women due to many life events such as marriage, childbirth and child-raising. Weekly magazines tend to run superficial articles on TV announcers, flight attendants or other popular professions for women, but our book delves much deeper. I believed that such information would definitely be useful to parents whose children are university students searching for employment.”
――Please give a message to current Chuo University students.
“I want male students to become more active! The Mainichi Newspapers sponsored a seminar teaching how to read newspapers and I had the opportunity to visit universities in the Tokyo metropolitan area. When speaking with students, I realized that female university students are the most active. In fact, more than 70% of student reporters for Campal are female. Male students need to take the initiative more. I want them to have a voracious passion for all things! However, I must say that all students are outstanding in general. They are extremely proficient at processing information through SNS and Line. Many people are critical of today’s youth, but I have great expectations.
Offered by: Hakumon Chuo 2013 Summer Issue, No. 232