Current Institutional Affiliation
Professor, Graduate School of Interdiciplinary Information Studies, University of Tokyo

Kaori Hayashi is Professor of Media and Journalism Studies at the Graduate School of Interdisciplinary Information Studies, the University of Tokyo. She previously worked as an economic correspondent at Reuters Japan from 1988 to 1991. She was a post-doctoral researcher in the Sociology Department at the University of Bamberg, Germany on a scholarship from the Alexander-von Humboldt Research Foundation in the period between 2003 and 2004. Besides conducting research and education at the University of Tokyo, Kaori Hayashi also holds numerous academic as well as professional offices such as membership of the Broadcasting Ethics and Program Improvement Organization (an independent self-regulatory organization of the national broadcasting industry), membership of the External Ethics Committee at the Asahi Shimbun for the period of September to December 2014. She is also a board member of the Deutsches Institut für Japanstudien (German Institute for Japanese Studies), a member of the advisory board of Yahoo Japan, and the Managing Director of the University of Tokyo Student Newspaper.

Award Information

Abe Fellowship 2014
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Professor, Interfaculty Initiative of Information Studies, University of Tokyo
Reconfiguring the Role of Professional Journalism: A Comparative Study of Media's Public Rationale in the US and Japan in the Digital Age

An informed citizenry is fundamental to democratic governance. Functioning journalism, therefore, is seen as an indispensable element of modern democratic society that holds power and government accountable to the public. However, in an age of "direct" information in which digital outlets and mobile communication platforms have multiplied, what role remains for professional journalism? Is the conventional newsroom still the most important place where journalism happens? Indeed, the public role of professional journalism has never been as complex as it is now. In this project, I aim to identify the changing profiles and roles of professional journalism against the background of changes in production, distribution and consumption of news in which smartphones and other digital communication technologies have made it much easier to access and produce information. By investigating the agencies and dynamics that shape current journalistic operations and output, I hope to inform both the media industry and civil society about the impact of ongoing changes in the US and Japan, as well as their similarities and differences. Further, I will propose ways to redesign the role of and rationale for professional journalism in both countries. As such, this project clearly addresses the type of agenda that the Abe Fellowship Program requires: it attempts to inspire and inform the environment (the media industry, media professionals, and concerned citizens) in which policies are needed and debated. Empirical data will be obtained using the perspectives of the sociology of organizations and professions, as well as media and journalism studies. In-depth interviews will be conducted with both journalism educators and full-time employees of media companies at the senior professional and senior management levels, in both the US and Japan. Based on substantial collected evidence, I will examine the role and identity of institutionalized journalism in the contemporary public information system. The decisive advantages and uniqueness of this research are threefold: first, it inquires into the details of changed and unchanged professional practices and operations through interviews from a comparative perspective. It will add concrete evidence to much-debated phenomena. Second, this investigation provides a better foundation for analyzing varieties of journalistic practices since it relativizes what journalism is and can be from a global perspective. Finally, inquiry into these two countries has its own justification because of the postwar historical background. The US and Japan shared an almost identical code of journalistic conduct after WWII. Therefore, by comparing how they diverged in terms of adapting to new digital technologies, I hope to depict the changing (and unchanging) social roles of and rationales for professional journalism in both cultures. Having led numerous research projects at home and abroad in the past, I possess both knowledge and experience in designing and implementing research, especially in the field of the sociology of professions and comparative media research. With this project, I hope to contribute to invigorating discussions among media professionals, scholars, and citizens regarding the fundamental question of what purpose professional journalism serves in the contemporary information society.