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Media literacy means understanding that objective reality is impossible to comprehend, and that the best you can do to make sense of the world is to know how to interpret signals. Part of that process is identifying what’s at stake: Newspapers and broadcasters have parties they think they need to please, politicians constituents to woo, businesses customers to serve. In 2015 the means of mass media continued to fragment, resulting in a greater abundance of conflicting messages, as well as a greater potential for revealing truths — one of which is that TV is less relevant than ever.

Although they’ve been increasing for years fueled by disillusionment with Japan’s nuclear energy policy, protests in front of the Diet building and the prime minister’s residence exploded this year thanks to the organized actions of the Students Emergency Action for Liberal Democracy (SEALDS), whose English moniker’s ironic resemblance to that of a certain ruling party went unremarked. Though the mass media tried to ignore these whippersnappers with their rap-like chants and artless disregard for power, social media brought them to the attention of the public, so even public broadcaster NHK was forced to acknowledge them, while trying to play down their effectiveness in fighting the government’s contentious security legislation.

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