NHK is backing up against a deadline, which explains why they would be desperate enough to contact me! I had an interesting conversation with the reporter, and then I got hit with a question that's still gnawing at me—"if there are so many high-tech American workers that have been forced into a downward economic spiral, then why can't we find one to go on Japanese television?"
OUCH! That was a tough one! About the only plausible theory I could come up with is that there are a lot of Americans who fear going on camera to tell their stories. Or perhaps it's a cultural thing—Americans don't like to go public with their failures. Or perhaps NHK just doesn't know how to reach out for stories like this. Of course it could be that there really aren't that many Americans that have been really pushed down in the way NHK is looking for. Personally I have a tough time believing that to be true.
I'm not including contact information for the reporter for a very good reason—because I want to screen out those of you that would try to contact NHK without reading this entire newsletter first. Please folks, if you don't have the time or desire to read everything below, delete this email and move on. I really don't enjoy being the point person for efforts like this because they usually end up taking lots of my time while providing disappointing results. Please save your time and mine by taking the time to study all the details about what is required to be on their documentary.
STOP HERE AND READ VERY CAREFULLY BEFORE GETTING STARSTRUCK WITH THE IDEA OF BEING ON TELEVISION!
Doing an interview with NHK is more like doing a reality TV show so please don't think all that will be involved is driving to a studio for a short interview. They will practically live with you and your family for a few days. If you can't make that kind of commitment, or your family can't, don't go any further because NHK probably won't be interested in talking to you.
I have been told by a person who went through a similar documentary with NHK who said that the Japanese TV crews are top notch, and are totally respectful. He said the video crews were more like family friends than reporters.
One more qualifier—please do not contact me until you have watched the entire NHK documentary on my website, and until you have thoughtfully read the email below. Before you get stars in your eyes the video will give you a very good idea what their style of reporting is and what will be required of you.
To watch the NHK video go to this page and scroll down to this video:
The email I received below by the NHK reporter refers to "IT or high tech worker". After some questioning the reporter clarified the term to a broader category—ideally it could be almost anyone in Computer/IT, science, and engineering—or maybe even academia. What they really are looking for is a geek!
Probably the most important thing they are looking for is somebody who has been forced out of their field into a "blue collar" type of job. They are television, after all, so they would much rather see a former computer geek digging ditches than working an $8 office job, although without doubt both stories could be equally tragic. They are definitely looking more towards somebody with a family that is having money and/or psychological problems as a result of declining income and status.
If any of you out there are interested, send me a brief email explaining why you think you would qualify to be on NHK along with your contact info. I'll pass all good cases to the NHK reporter. Filming will probably start within days or a week. [Email below the More Tag]
Date: Fri, 14 Sep 2007 21:59:53 -0400 From: RI Subject: It worker unable to find a job I thought I'd ask to see, if you know of anyone who might be a face of the Working Poor. We are trying to get in touch with American IT workers who cannot make ends meet with what they can earn, due to the global competition. What for? I am contacting you on behalf of a Japanese Public TV's documentary program called "NHK Special". My name is RI and I am a NY based field producer. We are aware that you are actively involved with high tech labor issues, and I would like to ask your help with getting in touch with people who are currently out of work or being laid off with no fault of their own. First, we want to learn about cases where IT workers, the educated segment of American middle class, is even not immune to falling down to precarious employment. Why high tech industry? People generally think non-manufacturing jobs are still safe from unemployment or wage decrease, because of their specialized skills. We thought of highlighting the case of IT sector, so that viewers see the problem as being one that can affect the educated middle class, not in certain segment of less educated population. Who we are looking for? Particularly, we are interested in people whose income had been significantly reduced. We would also like to see some American cases, where there is no language or cultural obstacles other than simple employment issues. Specifically, I am looking at the of US population who works hard but can hardly raise a family on the wages they can earn on whatever the job available. For an example? (Squeezed Middle Class, easy fall of the Middle Class, broken American Dream, etc...) An IT or high tech worker or some other support personnel in a related field, with a college degree. Used to have a solid middle class life. Lost a job or business due to the volatility with employment/market or the work duties were shipped off shore. Currently suffering from much lower income perhaps due to the competition with foreign work force (H1-b or off shore). Working wife, childcare, healthcare, mortgage, all adds up to his current circumstances. Living from day to day is the best he can reach, worried about children's future, any catastrophic medical expenses, maybe leave the business altogether, and settle for something of an downgrade, etc... I just jotted down some fictional character that might highlight such hardship. As I said, this would be anywhere in the US, just as long as it is American workforce problem and not too complicated by other factors like language or race. Any pointer you may have to give me in locating such individuals will be very much appreciated. I would like to maybe speak with a few families on the phone as soon as possible, and later on, determine whether we can plan a filming or not. Thank you. — RI NHK, Japan Broadcasting Corp.