Japan Today

Japanese newspapers look for new ways to survive


In 2009, the Japanese newspaper industry suffered a large drop in ad revenues and a decline by more than 1 million copies in combined circulation.

In a worsening environment in which many newspaper companies are finding it increasingly difficult to sustain their business solely through newspaper publication, their biggest challenge in the new year will be determining how to develop or ensure new revenue sources, including raising earnings in so-called digital business activity.

Newspaper firms are set to increase their efforts to cut spending by entering into production tie-ups with other firms. A number of newspaper companies have already launched early retirement programs, sending a signal that staff reductions are likely to spread across the newspaper industry.


Newspaper companies are counting on the Vancouver Winter Olympics, soccer’s World Cup 2010 in South Africa, and Japan’s upcoming Upper House election as chances to boost ad revenues. However, the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), in its election pledge for the 2009 general election, promised to lift the current ban on using the Internet for election campaigns. The newspaper industry is closely watching DPJ government activity in this field, which might greatly affect election-related advertising in print newspapers.

Newspaper firms are aiming to attract new advertisers through a cross-media approach, while prodding editorial, circulation and event-business departments to team up with advertising department staff for sales promotions. Many regional newspapers are concentrating on sales promotions with local businesses as their target.


In order for newspaper companies to maintain their door-to-door newspaper delivery systems and to resolve their financial problems, they need to develop fair sales competition. Taking the successful restoration of fair sales conditions in the Kansai region as a model, the newspaper industry now aims to promote such efforts in other regions of the country. Another upcoming challenge will be how to attract new subscribers at a time when an increasing number of young people are not reading newspapers at all.


This year, even more newspaper companies aim to outsource the printing of their newspapers to other newspaper firms in order to reduce expenditures on the outsourcing side and to make more effective use of their own facilities. The Asahi Shimbun will in April assign the Minami-Nippon Shimbun, a regional newspaper based in Kagoshima Prefecture, to print its editions for distribution in Kagoshima Prefecture and in the southern part of Miyazaki Prefecture. The Yomiuri Shimbun is to consign the printing of its editions in the Joetsu and Chuetsu areas in Niigata Prefecture to the Niigata Nippo, a regional newspaper based in Niigata Prefecture, starting in the fall of 2010.

Kyodo News and the Sankei Shimbun are planning to introduce content management systems (CMS) this year with the aim of effectively delivering news contents via a multimedia platform.

Electronic Media

While ad revenues continue to fall, many newspaper publishers are expected to make serious efforts to launch news sites on the Internet, and to attract paid subscription as a new source of revenues.

This spring, the Nihon Keizai Shimbun (Nikkei) is to launch a full-fledged electronic newspaper project. The Nikkei’s plan is expected to trigger moves in the Japanese newspaper industry toward a shift from free news websites to paid-subscription sites. In December 2009, the Wall Street Journal from the United States launched a paid-subscription news website in Japanese. The monthly subscription fee is 1,980 yen.

Portable e-book readers are expected to debut in Japan this year with the capacity to download a multitude of publications ranging from books to newspapers, while also offering simple, direct Internet access. The U.S.-based Internet retail giant Amazon plans to market its own e-book reader, the Kindle, in Japan. Amazon has a policy of setting the prices for e-book and e-newspaper content on its own. As a result, newspaper publishers and other content providers are pledging to remain prudent when considering whether to make their contents available for the Kindle.

In addition, Apple Inc is introducing new high-performance iPhone models and other makers are marketing smart phones capable of browsing page images of newspapers. Newspaper companies are exploring possibilities for ensuring revenues by supplying contents to such mobile terminals. There is also a possibility that the growing dissemination of smart phones will provide newspaper firms a chance to generate new revenues, beyond their current paid subscription model, via the development of new forms of advertising corresponding to the sophisticated functions of such mobile devices.

Some software development firms have already started providing a common platform for the distribution of page images from newspapers over the Internet. The companies say newspaper publishers could enter the digital content distribution business without any front-end payments or maintenance fees, merely by signing people up to try using their services. If many newspaper publishers were to implement such services, end-users would be able to search articles from multiple newspapers in a cross-sectional manner while additionally benefiting from the improved usability of such websites.

© Nihon Shinbun Kyokai

©2024 GPlusMedia Inc.

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I love newspapers, but I don't feel sorry for these guys at all. There's no real journalism in the newspaper industry in Japan and the government has protected the industry for decades by having fixed rates on subscriptions with the ridiculous reason being that newspapers are cultural and should not have discounts.

Allow the newspapers to have real competition by giving discounts to subscribers and with an increase in circulation (read: more readers to see advertising) more advertisers will start putting ads in the newspapers again.

But alas I give newspapers about 20 - 30 years before they're entirely online and I will not pay for an online subscription to a newspaper.

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Online news with advertising...Reduce the staff, stop using paper, and in the words of a famous business man, "Early to bed, early to rise, work like hell, and advertise!

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Well, here's how one guy did it... http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/jacek_utko_asks_can_design_save_the_newspaper.html

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i am amazed print readership has remained as high as it has - highest daily readership in the world. though, as people and companies seek out items to cut back on as disposible income dwindles, reductions are final beginning to show.

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They're gonna have to provide some quality insight, rather than just reporting the facts.

Internet is much faster for finding out what's going on.

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They're gonna have to provide some quality insight, rather than just reporting the facts.

since when have they been reporting facts ? they're all govt mouthpieces

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E-readers can not process Japanese text (as there is a text to speech function which would be almost impossible to activate with kanji), and there are no Japanese e-books that are on the market. Japanese culture and technology is WAY BEHIND, again. But, why download and pay for a newspaper when you can read all of the bad news on the Internet with the same newspapers, minus a little bit of needless content?

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newspaper survival = go online and be accessable through keitai phones so people can read you from their phones on the train.

next article please

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So stirfry can read Japanese newspapers? Wow. 尊敬 shimasu. I'm still working on it. It's good practice though.

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I read all my news here, the most trusted news source on the net! 簡単読める

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Japanese newspapers are very big in size. The trend in America has been to shrink newspapers to save millions on paper(newsprint).

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Same thing back in the US. Papers are going down in flames.

All they need to do is try for more objectivity and truth.

That would work wonders.

Refreshing to know a paper does not favor anyone at all.

The truth is in very short supply these days so the papers, Japan included, can improve business by reporting the truth to the best of their ability.

Even better are mistakes WITH honest retractions.

Telling the truth used to be the standard.

It ain`t no more.

So, go against the flow and tell the truth and it might work wonders.

Say for all of those job hunters who out and out lie on resumes. Standard.

I bet ya the guy who points out a couple honest faults will be the one who starts getting the jobs pretty soon.

Tell the truth papers!

If you think AP etc. is no good, say so.

Get you some credibility.

You`ll get the readers back.

Big time.

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The content is not the reason. The format is the reason.

I do not think the Japanese consumer is revolting against the validity of the news content.

In 2010 why would anyone stain their fingers with ink reading a table-size printed paper?

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I was wondering why the newspapers here, especially the Daily Yomiuri, are so against the DPJ. I figured it had something to do with money, and this article partly answers the question: they are against the DPJ's idea of allowing Internet campaigning as it will cause them to lose revenue. They are also against competition in the industry--they love their "one price fits all" status. The LDP protected the newspapers here, just like they did NHK, while the DPJ is is less inclined to do so. Speaking of NHK being protected (by having laws that make it difficult to open new TV stations) that is one reason there are so few channels here. May they both go the way of JAL!

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Newspapers have many problems. Readership is likely an older audience who are retiring and no longer need two copies. (1 for work and 1 for home) Older people already vote. It is likely correct that newspapers like elections because it is their demographic that would buy more newspapers.

Most importantly... TV. Every morning I can "watch" TV while the newspaper is read to me. The newspapers should charge the TV stations for doing TV's research and reporting for them.

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I still prefer newspapers over online for a few reasons.

The crossword puzzle, which I can do on the train or wherever I happen to be.

I like reading comics in newspapers.

I like clipping out stories.

In my home country, especially, spending a an hour or two on a Saturday or Sunday with the thick papers is a way of life for many people.
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Of the three reasons you gave, only one has to do with the actual content of a newspaper: the articles.

Newspapers will never vanish, but they certainly could morph into magazine-type smaller publications.

In my Japanese company, it is almost required that all employees read the Keizai Shinbun. The employees are quizzed each morning on what was in it.

That is a good business model for a paper!

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I would buy more newspapers if they were the size of manga. Ever try to fold or change a page in a crowded train? Impossible. The 'net rules.

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Kyokai : business associations like this are really holding Japan back in regards to change. They are set up to protect an industry, but having so many companies involved the speed of reaching a consensus is glacial.

Technology is moving too fast for them .. Adapt or die !

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Sounds like the same problems facing newspapers like the Wall Street Journal, Chicago Tribune, and New York Times. Many of these have already started to charge for articles read and downloaded online, in order to survive in these rough economic times. Japan's newspapers would have to follow suit in order to survive too.

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Why everyone forgot that many newspapers and news outlets once tried to take money for their info and miserably failed moreover some of them started as paid services. It was less than a decade ago. Only true news generators like AP, Reuters, etc can take money for their premium content even if it's news only. I don't see what possibly should happen to change this.

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i cant be bothered to read all this but id like to say, newspapers sellers get out of my face, you gangstas!

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News is the communication of information via a medium.

This medium has now had it's day. Like someone else said, "adapt or die".

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What is the name of that company in the States that is starting to charge for online content??? Talk about a recipe for failure!!! What you need to do is set up a really good website, and charge advertisers on a pay per view basis. You can also set up product links and receive click through commissions, and allow viewer input...That ought to do it...Oh yeah...and operate within your budget...reporters go to a by the story payment system..

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I used to really enjoy picking up a newspaper, especially during the weekend. But where I live there is no place near by that sells English newspapers, I'd like weekend only delivery which they don't have, and not long ago they increased the price. So I'm going on line almost exclusively.

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Here's an article stating that the New York Times will start charging for its online content on a "metered" system:


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Japanese papers would be declining even faster if it were not for the inter-ownership that exists between them and the major ad agencies like Dentsu and Hakuhodo. Just more dying businesses being propped up by Japan Inc.

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I'd like to see a quality newspaper here, that's all. A good thick, Observer-size one, with news, analysis and proper journalism.

But that would require critical thought on the part of the readership, so would be dead in the water here.

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The whole country is going to default and deflate. With all these excesses built into the system to prop up social insurance. Its best to sell your asset holdings in the short term.

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jerseyboy: You are correct. I have a friend who runs a mid-level advertising agency here, who tells me that Dentsu pretty much control the minds of the whole country.

Can't disagree with him either.

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I keep newspapers around in case I break some glass object or run out of toilet paper. Otherwise, the net's perfect - free and lots of colorful pics.

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Ha. Yeah, basically.

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