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Newspapers in Japan defy new media challenge

27 Comments
By Shingo Ito

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Just because it is printed on paper and in your hands, rather than delivered digitally does not make the contents any more authoritative, substantive or honest. It is the quality of the research and writing, the skills and integrity of the writers and editors that make a publication reputable and wanted. Repeated cutting and pasting are the bane of internet journalism, along with poorly formatted pages and far too much poor advertising.

An informed reader should be able to go through both, and sift the rubbish from the good content.

But in practical terms, we have copies of newspapers from 150 years ago, written documents from 1,500 years ago, yet are unable to read digital files from 15 years ago. Only time will tell which will last the longest...

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Newspapers and books have a tactile quality that digital will never replicate.

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And I've always been amazed at the enormous size of Japanese newspapers and the fact that they've held back on significant price increases. In the US, newspapers have downsized (literally) and doubled and even tripled their prices over the last few years.

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Not surprising considering the number of geriatrics in this country

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Ironic how the writer cites 3/11 to underscore the dedication of Japanese newspapers. In those critical days, the Japanese media merely supported Tepco's line that "Fukushima is under control and there is nothing to worry about." The Japanese media did a huge disservice to the local people.

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Tactile, durable, fold able, always on, high resolution, low cost, easy to get, easy to archive, easy on the eyes... A nice alternative and companion to digital media.

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JLee nailed ALL of the J-media toe the govt lines, print lies, dont investigate, with so many only able to read & undersatnd Japanese the media has a powerfull hold on the masses, who sadly all too often digest it all hook line & sinker, censorship, propaganda, & "news" all year long.

Another thing it illustrates is how Japan lives in both the present & past at the same time, sometimes its kind of nice, sometimes it just defies rational thought

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Never forget - an old newspaper can serve, when You lack paper for notes, want to paint the house or do other dirty things, where You have to wipe. It is something to the touch, which can be put to other uses. Try to improvise using an online newspaper...

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Also a newspaper is sterile and does well when being put on a cut(shaving) or similar wound.

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I hope there will always be newspapers. I would miss my daily crossword and on Saturdays and Sundays, at least in my home country, reading the thick papers is a tradition.

My gripe with online media is that there is too much of a rush to publish news without taking the time to verify it or even analyze it. Furthermore, too many blogs pass themselves off as news sites when they are nothing more than shriekfests.

It will really be a sad day when the last newspaper in the world closes its doors. Hopefully, it won't be in my lifetime.

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Newspapers here in American are dead.. why pay for a paper when i can read the news for free on the internet??

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Newspapers and books have a tactile quality that digital will never replicate.

That's what they said about the horse and buggy when the automobile was invented.

Japan has lots of old people. Old people read newspapers. It's not a mysterious phenomenon.

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Newspapers and books have a tactile quality that digital will never replicate.

That's true for now. Never say never.

Anyway, look at it this way. We went from clay tablets, to wood, to vellum to papyrus to paper and now to an electronic medium. All those transitions were disruptive and took some getting used to.

Digital news delivery will NEVER rub off and stain your fingers, however. AND one does not need to wait till the next print cycle for an update --that's a double edged sword, but by and large, it's positive.

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kudos to Ishinomaki Hibi Shimbun’s journos. it beats getting awards for some articles when whatever meager articles they wrote during those critical times could help people at large.

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I question the facts in the above story. From what I have heard, the newspaper industry here in Japan is also taking a beating, much like that in the U.S. Just look around you in the morning as you head to work. In the past era, you could see many newspapers being read. Today most people are reading the morning news on their keitai. The newspapers have to be taking a hit somewhere.

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News papers in Japan do not get your fingers dirt. American newspapers are filthy. However, newspapers are great for cleaning windows as they do not streak.

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Printed newspapers may be in crisis in the West but circulations remain enormous in high-tech Japan

how is "high tech" relevant here when large number of elderly population can't browse internet and have to depend on newspaper?

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Mostly old folks read dinosaur media, although physical print is good at times, though online media has more things now such as video and commenting :P

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I admit I do sometimes miss sitting at my desk or kitchen table after breakfast with a steaming cup of coffee and a newspaper in my hands, but it's just not worth it. Newspapers are static -- if the news is wrong or changes a few minutes later the best you can hope for is an update the next day. What's more, it's a waste of money, and outdated.

And JeffLee is bang on about the J-media.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

1) If you can read Japanese, you can find a lot more detailed information in Japanese newspapers than in US newspapers. I have read detailed maps and compared figures and information on the radiation fallout in Japanese newspapers, but the Western media has just given me a few floating figures and a bunch of opinion. 2) Reading the newspaper brings in articles and information that may not be chosen from an Internet site. 3) Newspapers are more easily shared among family members than news on a screen is. 4) I'm a bit surprised that circulation is still so high!

And don't knock the old - you will (hopefully) all be there some day.

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In those critical days, the Japanese media merely supported Tepco's line that "Fukushima is under control and there is nothing to worry about." The Japanese media did a huge disservice to the local people.

Exactly!!! Freelance internet news journalists and foreign media were allowed to attend official press conference only once a week on Friday, but 3.11 Friday, Edano allowed only kisha club members and excluded freelance and foreign media because he said "It's emergency!"

All these mainstream newspaper were saying, "Fukushima is under control". Actually the journalists fled from evacuation zones on March 12. Asahi fled to 50km from the plants, Jiji-tsushin fled to 60km, HNK fled to 40km. And they were reporting from the distance, "There is nothing to worry about." Asahi and NHK had a branch office in Minami-soma, but they were all gone. Minami-soma mayor, Sakurai, asked for foods and goods through YouTube because there were no media people around, there were only a few freelance journalists.

I have read detailed maps and compared figures and information on the radiation fallout in Japanese newspapers,

In March and April, I understand (please correct me if I was wrong) only Yomiuri had detailed radiation level in every city and town in Fukushima. The others were too vague and it was useless for the people in Fukushima.

Reading the newspaper brings in articles and information that may not be chosen from an Internet site.

True, and vice versa. Some internet site (not sponsored by TEPCO) gathered information from experts, foreign media... and stating worst case scenario while mainstream media were saying, "There is nothing to worry about."

I'm a bit surprised that circulation is still so high!

One of the reasons that people subscribe newspaper is that it comes with supermarket add. That's very important for housewives/husbands who go grocery shopping every day.

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Any publication be it digital or paper is still a second hand information with a "person" reporting about a topic or subject that may be of value to someone. Unfortunately there is "bias" and "unsubstantiated" opinions as well as views and insights into any story. That is true even when you yourself try to explain something to your closest friend or loved one.

That is exactly what we have here in our discussion. And that is OK. As someone pointed out, it is the reader (the receiver) of the message that must sort through the dust and look for pertinent and relative facts to determine reliability and meaningfulness of the information and message.

The is an inherent NEED to communicate regardless of the quality and quantity for all of us to survive. News paper is one of those sources of information.

It is "great" if a nation can have the written word as a source of information and if many people can read and take out and use what is meaningful for them. It was especially meaningful when electronic digital information was not available. We should commend those who took the initiative to make that information available.

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Well said kazetsukai, I agree with you 100%

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If newspaper readership is so high in Japan, why do even well educated people know so little about the world they live in?

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Many good posts here on this thread. I agree that some news sites or those that try to hold the facade of being a news site simply cut or paste or Google Translate. It's not true journalism.

On the other hand, I prefer the digital age because I'm against cutting down rain forests. Of course, the more responsible newspapers use recycled paper but still I think it's a different day and age.

Furthermore, my support of digital online newspapers comes from the fact that sources can be cited and we can click and find things on our own. With a printed newspaper you read it, you accept what was printed and move on. Online we read about something and if we have our doubts then it's off to the races to find our information. Westerners prefer this because we are not afraid to ask for a 2nd opinion. It's not uncommon for us to go to another doctor in the same field for a second diagnosis.

Japanese don't do this as much. I've heard that some doctors even take offense to a patient asking for a second opinion. Getting back on topic here, it's the same with the news. I might go from Reddit to CNN to BBC to JapanToday and back again 4 times in a day on the same story. If I really won't more I'll go to YouTube to see if there is any first hand video content from Associated Press.

I don't think we will ever let newspapers go but the truth is they have to adjust to our lives...not us to them. On a packed train nobody likes an open newspaper but when I use my iPad the size is perfect. Sometimes it even starts up a conversation.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

For newspapers, I agree with most of the posters here, that news surfing beats the old paper any day.

But for books, I would rather have a printed book rather. I could read the book almost anywhere, anytime, and even during power outages. On warm, sunny days, I could go to the park and sit down under a tree and read for hours at a time. Heck, I could even read the book while the plane is taking off or during landing ... and I don't even have to worry about recharging batteries.

But then again, that's just me, I guess.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

But for books, I would rather have a printed book rather. I could read the book almost anywhere, anytime, and even during power outages.

Book reading or anything of any length is not suited for LCD reading. It strains the eyes too much. e-ink solves most if the issue and it has good battery life as well (close to a month). One disadvantage they're working on improving is responsiveness. To make the "page turning" more instantaneous without the slow transition. As it is, though, once you get used to that once facet, e-ink is good for long reading.

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