Place of Publication: Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, Japan
Frequency: Six days while the newspaper could not be printed after massive earthquake, tsunami and nuclear power disasters affected the region
Volume and Issue Data: March 12-17, 2011
Size and Format: Poster-sized paper
Editor/Publisher: Hiroyuki Takeuchi, chief reporter, and the Hibi Shimbun staff
Title Changes and Continuation: None
General Description & Notes:
In the aftermath of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami in March 2011, the Ishinomaki Hibi Shimbun newspaper published six days in handwritten form. According to the Washington Post,
But unlike modern media, the method worked.
“People who suffer a tragedy like this need food, water and, also, information,” said Hiroyuki Takeuchi, chief reporter at the Hibi Shimbun, an afternoon daily. “People used to get their news from television and the Internet. But when there is no light and no electricity, the only thing they have is our newspaper.”
While recent political ferment across the Arab world has trumpeted the power of new media, the misery in Japan, one of the world’s most wired nations, has rolled back the clock. For a few days at least, the printed and handwritten word were in the ascendant.
“They were desperate for information,” said Takeuchi, who has slept in the office for the 10 days since the tsunami flooded the ground floor of his house.
With electricity now restored to about a third of the northeast town’s 160,000 residents, Takeuchi’s newspaper has put away its pens and started printing. Internet access is still not available. Monday’s printed front page cheered a “miraculous rescue drama” — the story of an 80-year-old woman and her 16-year-old grandson plucked from their ruined Ishinomaki home Sunday.
Down the coast in Sendai, a once-thriving city of more than 1 million, the digital juggernaut has also come to a halt. “In conditions like these, nothing has power like paper,” said Masahiko Ichiriki, president and owner of Kahoku Shimpo, the city’s main newspaper. With most shops shut, people can’t buy batteries to power radios.
The Newseum staff say the story and now has purchased copies of the papers, which are on display at the Washington, D.C. museum. According to the Newseum website:
“When the worst The Newseum became aware of the Hibi Shimbun‘s heroic efforts from a March 21, 2011, story on the earthquake in The Washington Post. That morning, Brian Nishimura Lee, the Newseum’s senior administrator for database and financial systems, emailed editors at the Hibi Shimbun and requested copies of the handwritten editions for the museum’s collection.
The Newseum website provides additional details that were not in the original Washington Post story:
Ishinomaki, with a population of about 160,000 people, was one of the hardest hit in Japan. Approximately 80 percent of the homes were destroyed. About 1,300 people have died, and more than 2,700 are still missing.
The first handwritten newspaper on March 12 was an “Extra” edition that informed residents that the earthquake was “the biggest in the history of Japan.” The next day’s edition told about “rescue teams arriving in some areas.” On March 16, the paper said, “Let’s overcome the hardship with mutual support.” By March 17, the paper wrote about the lights coming back on.
The first printed edition of the newspaper since the power outage was published on March 18. Editions have been distributed free to refugee sites each day.
Links: Newseum video of Japanese newspapers
Locations: Newseum, 555 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W., Washington, DC