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British Editor Visits Japan Update: Guardian Hoping for Groundbreaking Information

By: Marie W. Conway

Date Posted: 2000-02-12

Last week, The Guardian newspaper’s Foreign Editor, Edward Pilkington, came to Okinawa on a “study tour” that involved, among other things, getting first hand information on the Prefecture’s preparation to host the G-8 Summit meeting this July. Before Mr. Pilkington left for Tokyo, where he boarded his plane back to London, he made a stop at the JAPAN UPDATE office in Okinawa City. While visiting there, he held talks with JAPAN UPDATE’s Publisher and CEO, Kari Valtaoja. He also spoke with the Okinawa English language weekly’s reporters on a wide range of issues - from his personal life and job, through the main reasons for his trip to, to his interests in some JAPAN UPDATE stories on AmerAsian issues.

The Guardian is Britain’s main left-of-center newspaper. It was first published in 1821, employs well over 700 journalists and is well-known for its liberal views on everything, from politics to financial matters.

Pilkington, based in London, started as a freelance reporter for The Guardian and other newspapers for 6 years before attaining his current job just over a year ago. He primarily focused on politics and social affairs as a freelance journalist. When JAPAN UPDATE asked Pilkington about the goals of the Guardian, he responded: "Increasing the circulation and improving the paper’s quality." Those have been the principles of the paper since its creation. On the Guardian Unlimited website, it is stated that "These principles remain the only instructions given to an incoming editor."

The print media is a very competitive market, but The Guardian has remained at the forefront of its field. Currently, according to Pilkington, circulation of The Guardian tops 400,000 copies per day and 550,000 on Saturdays. When questioned about some of the most interesting stories The Guardian has uncovered, Pilkington immediately cited the scandalous affair involving former Minister Jonathan Aitken. A string of investigations conducted by The Guardian Editor Peter Preston and successor Alan Rusbridger into the business activities of the Tory (Conservative) Party’s Members of Parliament unveiled the “cash for questions” affairs and corruption in parliament. This discovery played a role in the collapse, thereafter, of the Conservative government. Former Minister Aitken filed a libel case against The Guardian, but at the last minute, crucial evidence was found against him. Aitken was then found guilty and sent to jail in June 1999. Those investigations won The Guardian Newspaper of the Year Award in 1997 and 1998.

The Guardian Media Group (GMG) oversees Guardian Unlimited website, which receives over 9.5 million page impressions per month, according to the Audited Bureau of Circulation (ABC). This website includes sections dedicated solely to shopping, sports, and film reviews, just to name a few. GMG, in 1993, acquired The Observer newspaper, which had been originally founded in 1791. Guardian Weekly and Money Observer magazines are also part of GMG. For more information about this innovative group, The Guardian Unlimited website is: http://www.guardianunlimited.co.uk.

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