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In an effort to hone their Japan operations in the face of economic recession, a growing number of multinational firms are looking to analyze their coverage in the Japanese media, U.S. journalist and entrepreneur Katharine Paine said in a Tokyo press conference Thursday.

With this in mind, Paine has just launched a Japanese branch of the Delahaye Group, an image analysis company that she started 11 years ago out of her apartment.

Paine is now CEO of the $5 million company, whose clients include Proctor and Gamble, MasterCard and Texas Instruments, and in the past year she has brought the business to more than 30 countries in Europe, Latin America and Asia.

Offering companies “a direct link into the minds and hearts of their constituencies,” Paine said the startup is not a public relations agency, but a “clipping service” for large corporations.

“What we really do is measure reputation” in print and electronic media, she said.

The former Washington Post and Boston Herald journalist said she also spends much of her time steering executives away from the belief that “the media is out to get them.”

A certain amount of negative press is normal, she said, and it often reflects quality or service rather than PR problems.

“Sometimes I have to tell them, ‘It’s a lousy product,'” she said. “We help companies face reality.”

To introduce Delahaye’s techniques in Japan, the company has paired up with Japanese media consultant Intelligence Service Interface Inc.

Paine said she expects initial business to come from overseas corporations trying to improve their reputation in Japan, but she eventually hopes to take on Japanese firms as well.

Tad Osaki, head of ISI and a former journalist himself, said he is still unsure how Delahaye will be received in Japan. “It will take a while for this concept to be understood here,” he said.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
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