There is no doubt that Japan has produced its share of top-notch journalists: noted political writer Takashi Tachibana, war photographer Ryuichi Hirokawa and videographer Kenji Nagai, who was shot dead in September while reporting close up on the unrest in Myanmar, to cite but a few.

Be that as it may, scholars and media professionals say that, across the board, Japan's news industry is in need of some big fixes. With shortcomings at every stage of the journalism process, the result is news coverage so uncritical and dull that it fails to meet the needs of a democratic citizenry.

Waseda University in Tokyo wants to answer the call. In April, it will launch what it bills as Japan's "first genuine journalism graduate school," a fully accredited two-year program it hopes will fill the country's newsrooms with a new breed of reporter.