Online Newspaper in Japan Bites the Dust…

JanJan, an online newspaper here in Japan has folded their Internet online operations. Janjan was to be the digital answer to Japan’s old guard press. The story of the Internet company folding got so much traction that even the business section of the New York Times wrote about it today! The article talks much about what Janjan tried to accomplish, but I think it misses the point and doesn’t seem to want to talk about how print media and newspapers are losing out to the Internet when it comes to everything including information, smart marketing, PR and advertising – or any PR for that matter – here in Japan.

Oh well, the article did appear in the New York Times who, of course, wants to conveniently forget that, Internet company or otherwise, would have a hard time competing in a staid market like the news in Japan that targets the over 40-years-old crowd for news and marketing.

Let’s face it, many young people in Japan couldn’t care less about the news – mass media delivered or not; the older people who do care want reputation in their news and will stick with Nikkei Shimbun, Sankei Shimbun, or Yomiuri, thank you very much.

When it comes to TV news, even huge companies like TV Asahi or Fuji TV cannot unseat NHK for viewership or reputation amongst older Japanese.

If the playing field is “the news” (an area that targets over 40 crowd – who still want their newspapers) then there is no way that an online news service could ever hope to unseat the old school. The under 40 crowd in Japan, like anywhere else in the world, that has electricity, do not subscribe to newspapers.

When the service targets under 40 year old people in Japan then print media is basically dying a quick death in this country.

Anyway, I thought the New York Times article was “interesting” and had the usual suspects of “err” that I’ve come to expect from dinosaurs like the New York Times. In one sentence they claim that the Yomiuri Shimbun has more than 10 million subscribers (I heard from a former top executive at Yomiuri Shimbun that it was only 8 million):

For a variety of reasons, cultural as well as economic, the digital revolution has yet to wreak the same havoc on the news media here that it has in the United States and most other advanced countries. The media landscape is still dominated by the same handful of behemoths that have held sway for decades, like the Yomiuri Shimbun, the world’s largest newspaper, with daily circulation of more than 10 million.

Never, but never, believe these types of sales or circulation numbers when they are touted by any industry in Japan; especially newspapers (add to that magazines, record company sales, etc.) Also, quite hilariously, a few sentences later, the New York Times writes that the Asahi Shimbun claims a 3% drop in subscribers over these last ten years.

Circulation of The Asahi Shimbun, for example, Japan’s and the world’s second largest daily, has fallen by 3 percent over the past decade to just over eight million.

Well, 3%? That doesn’t sound so bad… Hello? New York Times, you conveniently forget to mention what really matters in this equation: Not subscriptions, but revenue! From 1997 to 2006, newspaper revenues have dropped 25%. Read here:

What planet are these New York Times people living on? Oh, well, forgive the New York Times for failing to state the obvious because the implications for themselves are pretty much doom and gloom…
In Japan some newspapers still have credibility because they will take the government to task for lying and being incompetent; while in the USA, newspapers like the New York Times, are mouthpieces for the government and, as such, have seen their readership seriously decline because they lie all the time (remember WMD in Iraq? etc., etc.,) and people have lost respect for them…

For all Japan’s warts, we still have a press that is skeptical of the government’s motivations and I’m sure that has helped the newspapers to retain readers…. Their revenues? Well, that’s another story.
New York Times, why do people need newspapers like you if you are not going to do investigative journalism and just be a voice for the regime? Us bloggers? We have Twitter, Pick, Facebook, Mixi in Japan, and a host of other Social Media to get the word out.

Many older people in Japan still have the habit of buying newspapers. Old habits die hard. But, some of us oldsters are easy to change; especially if money is any motivator. I, for one, certainly don’t need to pay a dollar fifty for yesterday’s news. I got my old-style traditional blog and my blogger friend’s…. Thank you very much.

Here’s an old joke for the New York Times:

Question: What’s white and black and red all over?
NY Times staff answer: A newspaper!
My retort: No, the New York Times balance sheet!

Anyhow, check out the full article here:

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