Smith, Stacy


A Chat with Nikkei News Columnist and JET Alum Stacy Smith

(From the Summer 2006 “Interpretations” Issue of the JETAA NY Newsletter)

Stacy Smith (Kumamoto-ken CIR, 2000-2003) has been working as a bilingual staff reporter for Nikkei Business magazine in New York since May 2005, in addition to being a frequent contributor to the JETAANY Newsletter.  The Newsletter caught up with Stacy to learn a little more about what she’s doing and how it’s going.

So Stacy, it sounds like you’ve got a pretty nifty job with Nikkei Business.  Can you tell us a little bit about your life as a bilingual reporter for Nikkei?

After staying in Japan for a while following the end of JET, I came back to the States in early ’04 with the goal of finding a job where I could combine my two passions, writing and Japanese.  After a while this seemed like a tall order as most desirable writing related positions didn’t involve Japanese, and most positions at Japanese media companies were primarily administrative.  Finally, after a protracted year-and-a-half job search (during which time I kept busy with a baito as a waitress at a Japanese restaurant), one of the many Japanese employment agencies I had registered with told me about a job that fit both of my requirements.  The timing was a bit crazy as I had already received a job offer that I was planning to take from a manga/anime production company, but I went on the interview as the content sounded great.

So what happened in the interview?

Once we started talking, I found out that the bureau chief (my current boss) was from Kumamoto, where I had spent three years as a JET!  Starting with this crazy coincidence, everything about the job felt right and I accepted on the spot when I got an offer.

What exactly do you do?

My official title is Staff Writer for Nikkei Business Publications, and I work in the NY Bureau of Nikkei Business.  We are a weekly magazine (think the Business Week of Japan) and have a subscribership of 350,000.  My job as a journalist is basically to provide American business news to a Japanese audience (in Japanese, as we only publish in Japan).  I also contribute regularly to some of our sister publications, like computer and chief intelligence officer-focused magazines.

What’s this I hear about you getting your own column?

In April we launched our new webpage where I have my own monthly column entitled USA Hot & Cool (the name was picked by my editor in Tokyo!)  Here I cover not only business trends but also anything I find newsworthy in the States, especially NYC.  I appreciate that flexibility and it’s been a lot of fun to write so far!

So what have you found “newsworthy” so far?

At the moment I am working on a series covering the upcoming 5-year anniversary of 9/11 which has, needless, to say been a heavy project as I have been going to the site on a weekly basis for research.  I am exploring several themes such as organizations that were born as a result of the attack, how the building on the site is progressing, etc.  Some articles will find their way into the September 11th issue of our magazine and some into my column.  The anniversary is not getting nearly as much coverage in Japan as it gets here (even regarding crucial elements like the Memorial) so I want to give Japanese readers as much information as possible, particularly news they wouldn’t normally have access to.

Is this job as glamorous as it sounds?

Yeah, it’s pretty cool!  I don’t know if glamorous is the word I would use to describe it, but there certainly are perks.  I get to travel about once a month to various conferences and to conduct interviews, and as a result I have the chance to meet many different types of people.  Plus, with a press pass you can get into all kinds of events that would normally be off limits.  Working for a Japanese company definitely has its disadvantages, but at the same time it is really nice to be able to feel connected to the Japanese community while here in NY.  As my office is located on the same floor as Nikkei Shimbun and TV Tokyo (we’re all in the same group), due to the large Japanese population we are visited daily by bento delivery people, Japanese video rental services, etc., so I often feel like I have returned to Japan!

What do you see yourself doing in the future?

That’s a good question that I think about a lot these days!  I am not sure if I will stick with journalism in the future, though for now it is a field where I can learn new things every day and am really enjoying myself.  Graduate school is always in the back of my mind, and I certainly want to get back to Japan at some point in the near future, whether to study or work.

Any advice for aspiring bilingual journalists?

For print journalists, read in both languages to keep your skills sharp, especially publications similar to the kind you want to work for.  Don’t underestimate your ability to write in the foreign language despite not being “fluent.”  When I was in Japan I was horribly intimidated by translating from English to Japanese (though vice versa was fine), but it is a regular part of my job now.  I usually write my articles in English first to gather my thoughts, and then translate them myself into Japanese for my bureau chief to check.  Starting from my first article, he insisted that I write in Japanese and that has really helped me!

Thanks, Stacy!  To read her column online, go to:

leave a reply

Page Rank