From Old Main to New (to us) Tokyo

Company visits: Mass communication students learn about their prospective careers

TOKYO— On June 11, the School of Journalism and Mass Communication study abroad students visited The Wall Street Journal in Tokyo and heard from Texas State graduate Kosaku Narioka and his tales of trial, error and success during his journalism career. The students also had the privilege to meet the public relations professionals of the Tokyo office of Edelman, a global communications firm. To finish the day, the mass communication students toured the tall, mesmerizing Tokyo Tower.

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: TOKYO BUREAU 

Kosaku Narioka

Coming from the countryside in Japan, Kosaku Narioka never imagined he would be where he is today at the Tokyo bureau of The Wall Street Journal, one of the most prestigious, business-focused daily newspapers in the world. The Texas State alumnus said he didn’t come from wealth or anything special, but with his hard work and his thirst for knowledge, Kosaku said that any goal is achievable.

“If you just know a little bit more than everyone else in the room, people are going to notice,” Kosaku said. “People will look at you in a different way.”

Kosaku recalled his days at Texas State. He talked fondly of his past instructors at Old Main, in the SJMC, such as Senior Lecturers Gilbert D. Martinez and Charles Kaufman. Kosaku smiled as he remembered his first day working at The University Star.

“My first assignment was a movie review,” Kosaku said chuckling. “I decided I did not want to do that anymore. I wanted to do more reporting.”

Jakob Rodriguez, a senior on the SJMC trip, loved hearing Kosaku’s stories about Texas State and working for the school newspaper. Jakob was recently selected to be The University Star’s editor-in-chief. He said that his favorite part of the entire day was listening to the stories of the journalists from the Wall Street Journal Tokyo branch.

“I got perspective about life in the big industry (of journalism),” Jakob said. “I guess I didn’t really realize how many bigger parts of it there were. So, it’s really cool to hear from an international editorial perspective.”

Kosaku plans to move to Singapore to continue his journalism career. He loves Tokyo, but said he’s ready for a change.

“I’m excited,” Kosaku said. “A new place; new people.”

EDELMAN

As all mass communication fields are unique and have their own special values, there’s one field that really tugs on the consumers’ heartstrings by carefully crafting a person’s or brand’s story in the right way: public relations. Edelman is an international firm with an office in Tokyo that has helped clients determine their core values and find their purpose since 2005. The SJMC study abroad students had the chance to sit down with director Geoff Dosser and copywriter and editor Katheryn Tanquary to learn about the ins and outs of the PR industry.

“Trust and brand go hand in hand,” Geoff said. “Edelman has three main (missions): Protect, evolve and promote. Those three things can change (order).”

Geoff explained to the students that PR has changed dramatically over the past three to four years. New generations are setting new standards in the hierarchy. Companies have faced a huge vocal backlash for the way they have been presenting themselves to the public through stereotypical and misogynistic advertisement.

“Traditionally, Japanese advertisers focused on sex and stereotypes,” Geoff said. “You know the saying ‘sex sells’?”

With more and more brands becoming equally good, consumers can be turned off by brands very quickly. So, companies must find a way to cut through the clutter, he said, adding that the answer to this is public relations.

“Brands come to us and say ‘we need a purpose,” Geoff said. Students also learned from Edelman that Japan is generally a distrustful society, More people in Japan believe that businesses can incite change rather than the government. They showed students the 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer to back up these conclusions.

“I liked Edelman because they were trying to figure out ways for advertisement in Japan because the culture is kind of different here,” sophomore Tyra Williams said. “So, I liked that they were talking about learning about businesses and how, sometimes, (Japanese people) trust businesses more than the government. I thought that was interesting, because (in America), we don’t like businesses and government combining like that; we want them to be separate.”

TOKYO TOWER

The SJMC students stood in disbelief as they stepped off the elevator onto the main deck of the Tokyo Tower. A man, with a bright pink cone attached to his head, was dancing and gleefully shouting “happy tower” and “konnichiwa!” Just behind the interesting, gleeful man was the most beautiful view the students had seen of the three days of being in Tokyo thus far.

“I looked out of the window and saw just how high we were and looked down and realized we were protruding from the tower itself which was kind of scary.” junior Dylan Knight said. “You could see the legs of the tower clearly and everyone looked like little ants.”

After looking through the windows that wrapped around the middle of the tower, the students frequently visited the energetic tour guide once again. He made the students laugh hysterically because of his funny faces and quirky dance moves.

“He was the perfect man for that job,” Senior Lecturer Jon Zmikly said. “His facial structure was structurally sound like just like the [Tokyo] tower is. His eyebrows were very animated and very expressive.”

The second full day in Japan was filled with educational lessons from The Wall Street Journal and Edelman. The students really enjoyed hearing from both companies and said that both places were extremely friendly. The last stop for the group, the Tokyo Tower, was a fun way for the students to finish their day.

The students look forward to day three, which will be an unstructured day, meaning that students will be free to choose the activities that they want to do.



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