The Japan Times may be in financial trouble–how you can help

mytest

Hi Blog. The Japan Times newspaper raised their cover price on October 1st to 180 yen. That to me is a signal (among other things, such as the slimming classified ads) that the paper may be in financial trouble. Notwithstanding the fact that print journalism everywhere is hurting due to the spread of the Internet and news online, I would not like to see The Japan Times go under.

This blog is an independent public appeal to Debito.org readers to consider suggestions to help the Japan Times stay afloat.

DISCLAIMER: I speak completely as an individual and not as a representative of the Japan Times or any of its affiliates. Nobody from the Japan Times has contacted me to speak on their behalf. I am not a salaried staff member of the Japan Times, nor have I ever been, and the fact that I have written 40 columns for them as a freelancer since 2002 has no bearing on my decision to do what I can to help them. My motivation is that I believe the Japan Times is a good institution in a very deadbeat employment field: Many of the most famous media outlets worldwide are notorious for not paying or offering to pay their foreign correpondents or contributors. The Japan Times, in contrast, always been good to me–always paying me in full and on time (unlike Crisscross, publishers of the recently-sold Metropolis/Japan Today, for whom I wrote eighteen columns between 2000 and 2002, and who still owes me money despite my requesting them for years to pay), and it would be a shame (and a renewed incentive to the backstabbing media outlets) to see a rare honest media organ go under.

That said, why you should support the Japan Times:

1) The Japan Times is the only independent newspaper in Japan–meaning it is not a vanity project of any Japanese newspaper, unlike the Daily Yomiuri, the Asahi Evening News, or the Mainichi Daily News, and does not reflect their clear slants (or their labor practices towards NJ employees). All are decent enough newspapers, of course, but the Japan Times is the only one which for well over a century now has not had any major media backers to absorb loss-making operations. They stand alone, and that affects their output more in our favor. Thus:

2) The Japan Times more open to issues that affect NJ in Japan. The Daily Yomiuri basically translates the Yomiuri’s tendentious (and quite bland and biased) articles from Japanese, then imports overseas articles to make slim but cheap product. The Asahi is essentially a few pages (many just translated articles from the Asahi) tacked onto the International Herald Tribune, and focuses far more on overseas news than original domestic English-language Asahi articles (they also have a history of union-busting activity and a complete lack of editorial independence from the parent paper; an extreme example: just try to phone their English-language editors–you can’t even get through; I have on two occasions been refused connection at the Asahi switchboard). The Mainichi has long ceased to a newsstand issue, and has online the same translations of Mainichi articles plus the wonderful and unique Waiwai yellow-journalism Weeklies roundups (which are interesting but not exactly “news”). Only the Japan Times really has the independent-thinking J and NJ reporters seeking out the information the English-reading NJ communities in Japan need, freer of “Japanese-sensitivity sanitization”. The weekly revelations in the Tuesday/Wednesday Community Page Zeit Gist Column (which I write for) alone are, may I immodestly say, worth the entire cover price for the day.

3) The Japan Times has the best website archives in Japan–and for free. In this era when all other English-language J newspaper media have crappy search engines, and articles which selfishly and unhelpfully wink out of existence after only a few days (Kyodo News is the worst–you can’t find stuff even hours old), only the Japan Times has kept their body of work searchable and accessible since 2000. If anything, the Japan Times does more for the foreign correspondents in Japan (who often parachute into Japan and have to scramble to find any historical arcs in the media), not to mention us independent researchers (without expense accounts to pay for online memberships at every newspaper), than any other media outlet. And whenever you need something to prove a point (without having to resort to some questionably-reputable online source like blogs and wikis), who you going to point to without incredulity? The Japan Times Online, of course.

4) The Japan Times has become more open of late, and willing to give even quite outspoken critics (such as yours truly) space to set out their views. They are doing more to earn your readership (as opposed to the Yomiuri and the Asahi, which I don’t believe are all that interested in independent reportage outside of their editorial bent), and that should be encouraged.

================================

WHAT YOU CAN DO TO SUPPORT THE JAPAN TIMES:

a) Take out a subscription. It’s now just under 4500 yen a month. But if that’s too rich for your blood:

b) Encourage your employer to take out a subscription.

Or if you work at an educational institution:

c) Encourage your library to take out a subscription.

d) Encourage your local International Communication Center or other government/public institution concerned with internationalization and communication with the NJ community to take out a subscription.

They all know who the Japan Times is. It’s been around since 1897. Should not be too hard a sell. And it won’t cost you a thing.

================================

WHAT THE JAPAN TIMES CAN DO TO BETTER SUPPORT ITSELF:

(I do not speak as in insider with access to their books; only from personal experience.)

1) Avoid its own vanity projects, such as its vanity press. The Japan Times as a publisher of books charges incredible rates for people who wish to publish books with them. (I tried to publish a book with them several years ago, only to be told that I could only self-publish it, paying them four times the rate quoted elsewhere just for printing costs, not to mention pay an enormous premium over the standard cost for just an ISBN registration and bar code. And even then this would not include what it would cost to put “Japan Times Inc., Publisher” on the cover, advertise the book in their newspaper, or put the book on bookshelves nationwide.) You want to be a publisher as well as a newspaper? Offer competitive (realistic, even) rates and non-self-publishing options and you’ll get more business.

2) Save money on print and paper by getting rid of your stock market price pages. Does anyone actually look at those useless pages anymore? They’re available online to anyone who cares (and trades) nowadays anyway.

3) Get more reporters on the beat, listening to the pulse and the stories from the NJ communities. Japan Times reporters are notoriously overworked, and can be very slow to answer even simple enquiries or follow up on stories. You might also consider creating some stories on ethnic issues in Japan, since the non-English-speaking communities are growing much faster than the English-speaking communities. We have lots of stories out here just waiting to be lent the credibility that print journalism provides. Listen to us. We’ll help make your paper more interesting and saleable.

That should do it for now. Thanks for reading and considering my suggestions, readers. And Japan Times, if you’re reading this, we need you to survive as a media outlet. Get back on your feet. But do it reasonably and ethically, please. Thanks.

Arudou Debito in Sapporo
ENDS

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25 comments on “The Japan Times may be in financial trouble–how you can help

  • yukiko ogasawara says:

    hey debito, my hats off and a deep gracious bow to you. there is so much i could say but all i really want to say is,
    thank you, thank you, thank you.

    yukiko
    president of the japan times

  • Debito!

    Thank you. Since I saw that the price of the Japan Times was increasing, I was wondering if a write-up might be necessary. You beat me to it, and I’ll have my team of lawyers in touch with you over that.

    But seriously, I buy it every day I can get to the station, and maybe taking out a subscription is a good idea.

    I think you have some good ideas here – given that stocks are online and updated so frequently, I don’t see the point of putting them in print either.

    The one thing that makes JT so much better than the other English dailies are the reporters, and I’ve always thought that expanding that would make a better product. You’re totally right about this.

    Print classifieds are pretty much dying. Getting them online and making money from ad revenue is the model for the future.

  • MORE FEEDBACK FROM CYBERSPACE. DEBITO
    Debito-san,

    Interesting! But I thought that 80% of the JT’s readership came from Japanese learners of English? Do I have it mixed up with another newspaper?

    Another suggestion might be to have university teachers make their kids buy a copy for each weekly class and then do Jiji Eigo together. One class of 30 kids buying a paper– even once a month!– is better than one teacher subscribing for the entire month.

    Just a thought, neither here nor there, to clog your mailbox!
    ENDS

  • MORE FEEDBACK FROM CYBERSPACE. DEBITO

    Here’s an idea. Tell them to can their idiotic “Let’s all celebrate the Republic of Zubia independence day!” type pages. Every few days as long as I can remember they have been publishing these pages. I can’t believe those are big revenue generators. If they are, we don’t need the JT.

  • Fred Varcoe says:

    David,

    It’s hardly news that The Japan Times is in financial doo-doo. Their Teikoku Data Bank report makes interesting reading.
    Although they fired me five years ago after 15 years of dedicated and loyal service (I sued them for that and won), I have offered to help them. They’re not interested in my help.
    Perhaps not surprising, but in their situation (half the circulation of five years ago, I have been told), you’ve got to figure any help would be welcome.
    I fully agree with you that the JT deserves to be saved, but perhaps not in its present state or with its present publishers.
    You only have to look at the quality of some of Asia’s other independent English-language dailies to question the ability of the JT’s management. The words gutless and unimaginative spring to mind.
    It’s not too late, but don’t hold your breath.
    There is so much more i could say, but all i really want to say is:
    Wake up! Wake up! Wake up!

    Fred Varcoe
    Former head of JT Sports Dept. (1987-2002)

  • MORE FEEDBACK FROM CYBERSPACE. DEBITO
    Hello

    I think we all should take out subscriptions and see that, for those who work in universities, see that annual bound versions of the JT are purchased for our libraries.

    Also, the Christian Science Monitor came up with a paperless subscription, a pdf option but I have not looked recently.

  • MORE FEEDBACK FROM CYBERSPACE. DEBITO

    Raising prices doesn’t necessarily mean that a company is
    in trouble but Debito-san is correct that the JT has financial problems.
    Here are the sales and operating loss numbers for the Japan Times for the
    past three years from Nifco’s financial filings. (Nifco owned 75.5% of the
    JT as of 3/07, which made it a consolidated subsidiary.)

    (Yen millions)
    Sales Operating Loss
    3/07 2,989 (-5.3%) 327
    3/06 3,142 (-8.6%) 248
    3/05 3,436 (-5.9%) 211
    3/04 3,651

    That’s an 18% decline in sales over three years. Pretty serious. I’m not
    sure what was happening in 2003 and earlier.

    The good news is that this order of loss is pretty insignificant to Nifco,
    which reported operating profit of Yen 13,696 million in its last FY
    (an increase of 16.5%). Nifco won’t go broke because of the JT.

    I would personally hate to see the JT go under but the JT is not the only
    newspaper coping with shrinking markets. If management actually cares about
    becoming profitable, Debito-san’s suggestions would be a good place to start
    making changes.

  • My guess is the National Day pages are money makers, since usually have the page is filled with congratulation ads from foreign companies.

  • James almost as far north as you can go without a re-entry permit says:

    IMO taking out a subscription would do very little to improve The JT’s bottom line for all those persons who live outside of major metropolitan centers in Japan. I am quite convinced that for us in Hokkaido the JT loses money when it ships us a paper, whether the paper gets to us the same day or a day late. When it gets here a day late, most of the news is old and there is little value in reading yesterdays headlines and stories.

    I am also of the opinion that any additional subscriber adds very little to bottom line of any newspaper. The cost of print,paper and delivery might eat up all but 2 or 300 yen of the monthly subscription cost.

    The JT is a valuable asset to the print media in Japan. I will continue to read it online. I could be very easily convinced to make a direct yearly contribution to the bottom line by voluntarily paying all or a portion of the marginal profit on a monthly subscription. Much like a person does when they become a ‘Friend’ of US Public Radio. All JT would have to do to convince me would be to promise never to send me junk mail or email, never let anyone use their ‘Friends’ list. A single yearly New Years card would suffice as a ‘thank-you’

  • Dave,

    I read your e-mail about the Japan Times with interest and some amusement.

    Maybe going from 6 pages of jobs ads (roughly 30 ads per page) in their hey day to 1 page and falling might have something to do with it. Of course the “interest” part is business-related in that jobsinjapan.com, has over 500 job listings at any given time in a good month. We have a lot because 90% of them are free listings and the other 10% sell for 1/10 price of an ad in the Japan Times.

    The “amusement” part is that the Japan Times should be lowering their prices rather than raising them. This is especially true in a changing market where prices are coming down. This is the standard business model. Lower prices, cut staff, do things more efficiently and better. But the Japan Times is operating in a unreal world where the parent company subsidizes them. In this unreal world, prices go up when they should be going down. It’s almost laughable.

    People don’t have to pay Y50,000 to list a 50-word job ad as they did in the 70s, 80s and 90s. So, their ads shrink up. Not as many ads, so fewer people buy the paper. With fewer readers fewer companies want to buy display ads. All three income sources take a hit and it just spirals dowward unless someone does something to change it. They need to lower prices across the board. Raising prices is just going to make this vicious circle I described worse.

    With myself operating a competing business with the job ads, it is very pleasing to see them raise prices because they are less competitive and less effective. Although your efforts of support are admirable it’s not going to make any difference. If they don’t change drastically and get in line with the new market and new prices they are doomed to neverending subsidies to exist.

    The entire classified ad business in Tokyo with Metropolis as the main player exists because the Japan Times and other newspapers don’t want to touch it. They’re staff are paid too much and their rents are too high to mess with such “small change.” But that is what the foreign community wants. If they provide information people want more people will buy the paper. Then more companies will want to advertise (assuming they lower the ad prices) and then they have viable business assuming they cut other costs as necessary.

    How many display ads are in the Japan Times? Very few. If you compare that to other newspapers in the U.S. where it seems like every business in town uses the paper to advertise their products and people go to find out where to buy things, it is very strange when you look at an English newspaper in Japan. The problem is that the ad prices are too high.

    One solution you offer is for people to help them by paying the higher prices, but it’s not going to solve their problems.

    Regards,

    James

    {You are welcome to publish this on your blog if you like. I probably shouldn’t be giving them solutions that I think would work but that “dinasauer” is never going to change. They are too big, too old and too conservative.}

  • Debito

    We have discussed your payment for Japan Today articles over the phone several times. As far as I am aware, the couple of thousand yen deduction from your salary which you object to was for withholding tax, and you are not due anything further from Japan Today. Out of hundreds of contributors over 12 years, you are the only person that has complained about the witholding. That said, you are welcome to take the issue up with GPlus Media, the new publisher.

    Regarding the Japan Times, please just let the damn thing die. That they pay you is not a good enough reason to give it your support 😉 The management has no idea of how to run editorial or sales teams and are simply not interested in taking the simple actions that are required (cut staff, improve editorial, sell more ads, make community). Increasing the subscription price shows how hopelessly out of touch they are.

    Your campaign to support the newspaper is well-meaning, but misguided. By asking the public to pay the higher subscription you are asking the readers to continue to subsidise Nifco’s inefficiency, intransigence, indolence and insensitivity to the community. You would be far better to encourage everyone to stop subscribing so that the paper can finally be put out of its misery. There is a slim possibility that some new blood would come along and resuscitate it.

    Even that would be an uphill battle. Combined, sites like Japan Today and the various news blogs that have sprung up are already providing far better service than the Japan Times could ever, ever hope to provide. Long may they prosper.

    Best regards

    Mark Devlin
    Founder Metropolis/Japan Today

    =============================

    HELLO MARK. THANKS FOR WRITING AND CONTRIBUTING TO THIS THREAD.

    RE THE MONEY OUTSTANDING, I’M GLAD YOU BROUGHT THIS UP, SO WE CAN MAKE THIS ISSUE PROPERLY PUBLIC:

    I WROTE FOR JAPAN TODAY 18 COLUMNS BETWEEN 2000 AND 2002, AS ONE OF JAPAN TODAY.COM’S ORIGINAL CONTRIBUTORS (AND AT THE INVITATION OF TANYA CLARK). THE PRICE WE ARRANGED WAS 10,000 YEN PER COLUMN *TEDORI*, I.E. AFTER TAXES, AND THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT I GOT FOR THE FIRST FIFTEEN COLUMNS OVER MORE THAN A YEAR. THEN SUDDENLY WITH THE LAST THREE COLUMNS WRITTEN AND ALREADY PUBLISHED, JAPAN TODAY SUDDENLY “DISCOVERS” AN ACCOUNTING ERROR, AND CUTS MY SALARY TO 8000 PER COLUMN, WITHOUT ADVANCE WARNING OR ACKNOWLEDGEMENT.

    THIS SORT OF QUESTIONABLY ETHICAL (AND LEGAL) ACTIVITY OF CUTTING ONE’S ESTABLISHED SALARY AFTER A PROLONGUED PERIOD OF TIME WAS THE REASON I STOPPED WRITING FOR JAPAN TODAY. THUS I WAS OWED A 2000 YEN CUT TIMES 3 ESSAYS = 6000 YEN, FOR MORE THAN FIVE YEARS.

    THE ONLY EXCEPTION TO MY MORATORIUM ON WRITING FOR YOU WAS WHEN YOUR EDITOR, STEVE TRAUTLEIN, VERY KINDLY ASKED ME TO WRITE SOMETHING UP ABOUT THE OTARU ONSENS CASE. SO I HAD “COMING CLEAN AT LAST: THE OTARU ONSENS CASE EXPOSES JAPAN’S HALF-MEASURED APPROACH TO ELIMINATING DISCRIMINATION.” IN METROPOLIS MAGAZINE’S “THE LAST WORD” COLUMN, ISSUE 554 (NOVEMBER 2004).

    THE PROBLEM THERE WAS THAT IT STILL TOOK ME *MORE THAN HALF A YEAR* TO GET PAID FOR THAT, TOO, AND THIS WAS AFTER NUMEROUS REQUESTS FROM ME VIA EMAIL WITH YOUR STAFF FOR THE MONEY. I LEARNED MY LESSON AFTER THAT.

    AS FOR “US” TALKING “NUMEROUS TIMES” BY PHONE, SORRY MARK, BUT IF YOU ARE REFERRING TO YOU AND ME, WE HAVE NEVER SPOKEN. IF MEMORY SERVES, I HAVE ONLY SPOKEN TO A JAPAN TODAY STAFFER ONCE (REGARDING THE ABOVE “LAST WORD” COLUMN), AND ALL OF OUR (MEANING YOUR STAFF AND I) OTHER CORRESPONDENCE HAS BEEN BY EMAIL OTHERWISE. THIS IS BY DESIGN–SO WE WOULD MAINTAIN A WRITTEN RECORD.

    MOREOVER, MY SUPPORT OF THE JAPAN TIMES IS NOT BECAUSE I’M BEING PAID FOR WRITING FOR THEM–AS I GAVE NUMEROUS OTHER REASONS IN MY STATEMENT OF SUPPORT.

    FINALLY, THE JAPAN TIMES DOES NOT DESERVE A FATE OF “LETTING THE DAMN THING DIE” FOR THE REASONS YOU GIVE. TWEAKS, ADJUSTMENTS ETC, CHANGES IN BUSINESS PRACTICES, FINE, AS I SAID IN MY APPEAL. BUT THE FACT THAT YOU JUST SOLD JAPAN TODAY AND CRISSCROSS TO JAPAN INC. (FOR “AN UNDISCLOSED SUM”, ACCORDING TO TERRIE’S TAKE 439, BUT NO DOUBT A PRINCELY ONE), MEANS YOU’VE NOW SOLD YOUR BABY AND CAN WRITE WITH NOT A LITTLE TRIUMPHALISM.

    CONGRATULATIONS. BUT BEING PROFITABLE BY CUTTING CORNERS LIKE YOUR COMPANY DID IS NOT SOMETHING I THINK THE EMPLOYER SHOULD DO, OR THE EMPLOYEE SHOULD TOLERATE. PERHAPS I AM THE ONLY ONE WHO’S EVER COMPLAINED ABOUT THE WITHHOLDING TAX IN PARTICULAR, BUT I DOUBT I AM ALONE IN BEING A NON-FAN OF CRISSCROSS’S BUSINESS PRACTICES (I HAVE HEARD SIMILAR STORIES FROM SOME OF YOUR OTHER CONTRIBUTORS WHO FELT BILKED), BUT FINE. YOU’VE UNLOADED YOUR BUSINESS FOR A PRIZE SUM, SO YOU CLEARLY FEEL AS THOUGH YOU WON SOME CONTEST IN THE MARKETPLACE. AS YOUR CONTUMELY ABOVE INDICATES.

    BUT FOR THIS REASON ALONE, I HOPE THE JAPAN TIMES SURVIVES–THEY COMMENDABLY TREAT THEIR CONTRIBUTORS BETTER. CRISSCROSS SHOULD DEFINITELY NOT BE THE TEMPLATE FOR SUCCESS IN YOUR INDUSTRY.

    ANYWAY, I’M GLAD JAPAN INC. TOOK YOUR PAPER OVER. THE NEW EDITOR AND OWNER OF YOUR PUBLICATION HAVE BEEN IN TOUCH, AND ALREADY PAID ME THE BALANCE YOUR COMPANY OWED ME. PLUS 5% P.A. INTEREST. AND I LOOK FORWARD TO WRITING FOR THEM AGAIN, IF THEY’LL HAVE ME BACK.

    THEY’RE BETTER BUSINESSPEOPLE, BECAUSE THEY’VE ALREADY DEMONSTRATED THAT GOODWILL ALSO MATTERS TO THE BOTTOM LINE.

    ARUDOU DEBITO IN SAPPORO

  • FEEDBACK FROM CYBERSPACE:

    I would LOVE to subscribe to the Japan Times, but I need the commercial inserts that come with the paper.

    The local Japanese distributor will NOT give me the commercial inserts unless I subscribe to a Japanese publication. I have been to the office and talked with them twice over the past years, and tried to get the Osaka office to intervene. But……local distributor has the power.

    So….I must subscribe to Yomiuri.

    [A friend] in Osaka

  • Debito-san,

    Knowing people who worked for Mark Devlin, you are not the first person he has ripped off and probably not the last.

    Even back in the Tokyo Classified days, employment with Mark was a revolving door. He does one scam after another, even tried to sell shares of Crisscross illegally.

    Some certain points in time, there wasn’t one printing company that would extend credit as their bills were months umpaid.

    Whatever Mark Devlin does next in Japan, people should stay clear of him, as you will get the $hitty side of the stick.

    Debito-san, thinking of the money he owes you, consider yourself lucky, I know people who are much worse off.

    Cheers,
    Wes
    16 years in Japan

  • I took a look at yesteray’s JT with a somewhat critical eye and noticed a few things that just, well, made me not want to buy it (even though I often do.) First, selling ads is of the utmost importance and it is true that the JT runs fewer ads than most US papers, but it is also much smaller. Almost half of the front page of today’s paper was a Lufthansa ad. Half-page and even full-page ads are fine, but on the front page? Come on.

    Furthermore, yesterday’s JT devoted 50% more space to Movies and TV and Sports (3 pages each) than to National News, of the meager space for which 1/8 was taken up with the fantastically dippy non-story of Yoko Ono dedicating the John Lennon memorial peace monument beam-of-light thing in Rejkavik, a piece that included a large black-and-white rendering of a photo of a beam of light, which, of course, looked like nothing in B&W on newsprint. Not to mention that the story has naught to do with National News. A further 1/8 of the National News space, possibly more, was ads. The rest, save one brief article, was soft news. That’s just not going to make anyone buy a newspaper.

    On top of that, the sports coverage is more in-depth for foreign sports. I can read about MLB in English anyplace. Outside of the playoffs, there’s not much about NPB – sometimes not even box scores.

    Bottom line is that a paper in Japan should cover Japan well – the JT is the best English daily, but its coverage of its own home turf is sporadic and shallow. Opinion and analysis pieces are great, but aren’t that useful if the hard news they’re analyzing wasn’t in the paper because Yoko Ono is Rejkavik was considered one of the most important national news stories.

    When the JT looks at surveys of what people want, it ought to be sure that it’s giving emphasis to people who are actually going to buy papers. I know a number of people, for instance, who vocally whine about the lack of English Premier League coverage, but have never bought a paper. Why cater to them? You’re not going to suddenly turn them into subscribers.

    As for stock info, classifieds, movie listings, TV schedules – these things are a waste of space in the print edition. Besides, how many people who are going to watch Japanese TV are unable to figure out the TV schedules printed in Japanese all over the place?

    I often read the JT and wonder who the heck they’re targeting.

    In this day and age, when numerous British and American papers will ship overseas and almost every paper is on line for free, the JT’s day-old AP stories aren’t worth much. If they want to remain relevant, they need to fill the niche they should have been filling all along: report on Japan in English. Do what other papers don’t do very much or very well. This is especially important considering the lack of journalism and analysis in the Japanese dailies. If the JT became the first actual newspaper, in any language, in Japan, I’d buy two copies every day and even make donations to them. As it is, I often wind up wondering why I blew my 180 yen.

  • Personally The Japan Times has disappointed me on a number of occasions. Late and bland coverage as well as subpar quality of contributers have conspired to make the newspaper less
    reliable – that is not to say that the quality of the competition is that high. At any rate, I do not care whether The Japan Times continues to exist, and I believe this sentiment is shared by most of those who do read English language press here. What does worry me though is the fate of those several journalists who are showing promise and who can become competent given proper chance. This potential talent should be be allowed to disappear.

    Leo
    Tokyo (Canadian diplomat in Japan)

  • FEEDBACK FROM CYBERSPACE:

    Thanks for this recent post. I’d like to support the JT, but I have
    gripes. The PR articles for countries like Egypt Day or Cameroon Day are
    an insulting farce. And then there are the routine gaffes like today’s
    edition, which has the same story about the Templars on pages 8 and 10!
    But anyway, I still read it and I still generally like it. I just wish
    they would improve the quality.

  • catoneinutica says:

    Nice to see Sparky-mark Devlin was able to take time out of his busy schedule of cyber-stalking Nick Baker. Refer to the following cached Wikipedia Talk Page for Mark Devlin before assuming anything he writes has a shred of credibility:

    http://72.14.235.104/search?q=cache:aMWJYq2f-AgJ:en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User_talk:Sparkzilla

    One can only infer from this embarrassing melodrama that either Devlin suffers from some obsession with Nick Baker, or Devlin is being paid to attack Baker.

    Which is it, Devlin?

  • Perhaps JT could sack a few of its columnists who are
    just atrocious. Mark Schrieber and Geoff Botting for starters.
    Followed by that permanent resident column, Kenny Joseph Jr (what a tool)
    followed by an apology for ever publishing anything by Amy Chavez,
    followed by ceasing to use the term “vernacular press”.

    How does that sound ?

    More columnists like Debito, more NGO focus, more Japanese language and culture pages.. and it will survive.

  • ‘James almost as far north as you can go without a re-entry permit’ hits the nail on the head. As Debito remarks, the JT is a superior product to the Yomiuri etc., but the Yomiuri can deliver to me the same day. The JT will not. To boot, it will not even tell me why not (emails to sales & circ dept unanswered). I live in Yamagata City, only 3 hours by shink from Tokyo, but why should I put up with stale news, let alone share prices 3 days old? If they want to survive they need to drag their delivery into the 21st century.

  • My lone experience with Japan Times staff came when I felt compelled to call in and comment on their sportswriter’s description of an Asashoryu sumo victory as a “no-holes barred attack”. I was basically laughed at…I guess implying attempted rape on the dohyo is nothing to get uptight about.

  • Hi Debito,

    I’m working on a piece analyzing the future of print media and this thread is very interesting. I wonder, Debito or anyone else who cares to chime in, whether you would prefer a Japan Times with more reporters but no paper presence. It would focus on local news more, keep its archives open, and be an improved product, but it would not be on paper — no newsstand sales, etc. I guess what I’m getting at is how important is the ink and paper part of the equation?

    Thanks for your responses, and I don’t mind if someone besides Debito wants to comment directly to me at bruce at chin music press dot com so that we don’t change the focus of this thread too much. Cheers.

    I THINK THE THREAD HAS GONE COLD, OKAY TO GO IN THIS DIRECTION.

    PRELIMINARY THOUGHTS: CALL ME CONSERVATIVE, BUT I FIND IT HARD TO ENVISION A CREDIBLE PRINT MEDIA WITHOUT SOMETHING IN PRINT. POSSIBLY COS I WAS BROUGHT UP THAT WAY… DEBITO

  • Debito,

    I know what you mean. There is something more credible about a print product, and online-only publications like Salon or the Asia Times are still not quite considered to be in the same group as their print brethren even if their reporting is comparable or in some cases superior.

    Perhaps the digital divide plays a role, too. Online-only publications still cater to certain segments of society. I’ve seen the homeless in Shinjuku reading the Nikkei Shimbun, but it’s another thing for them to get in front of a computer or even obtain a printout. Of course, raising the price of the JT is not the ideal alternative.

    But when the publisher of the New York Times says he doesn’t care whether his paper is printed or just online in five years, I think the idea of having a news*paper* is worth debating. Here’s the NYT comment:

    http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/822775.html

  • The U.S. Embassy has been warning people to stay away from bars in Roppongi. Kabukicho in Shinjuku probably isn’t much better. http://tokyo.usembassy.gov/e/acs/tacs-warden20090317-01.html . The sad thing here is this kind of stuff continues because the cops mostly ignore it. It’s just too much hassle for them to investigate not-easy-to-solve cases like this. A friend of mine recently got a spiked drink in an African-run place in Roppongi. Half way through the drink he started to feel very strange like he was going to pass out. He managed to get out as the African touts did not try to stop the only half-drugged customer. Robbery is robbery. Drugging the drink is just one method. Physical assault in a stairwell is another. This stuff is going on all over the place and being ignored by the cops.

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