SHOCKING! is ending their excellent “Today’s morning edition” feature

Remember my recent post praising Asahi’s Japanese website for getting better and better? Well I take it all back. Asahi’s website is about to get worse.

Mere days after I lauded Asahi for making their Japanese-language website more useful, the site has decided to take a huge step back.

According to a Feb 26 news release, they will no longer offer the “Today’s Morning Edition” service as of March 4. The feature gave a full list of the day’s print edition headlines and offered one (almost) full-length article in each section per day. It was a great way for people who can’t get access to the paper to ascertain what is making news in Japan.

But no more. Editorials and the front-page column “Tensei Jingo” will still be available going back 1 week, but otherwise you have to go to fee-based sites such as Asahi Perfect to get access. No other explanation is given.

The Morning Edition section wasn’t started all that long ago (I can’t seem to find a reference to when they started it), but I’m presuming they started it on a trial basis to see if offering one free article per section would attract sufficient interest in the fee-based services. I’m guessing that they didn’t generate enough interest, not that the feature was marketed all that well (I didn’t notice it existed until I decided to check the editorial section one day).

If this decision is one made by the new editor that was looking for, I humbly request they reconsider. Offering more of Asahi’s flagship content online will only attract more interest in the site and would not hurt newspaper sales.

I can understand why Asahi, the number 2 newspaper in Japan, is reluctant to take the plunge into offering more free content. Japan’s newspaper circulation has been falling much more slowly than their American counterparts. In particular, the Asahi’s circulation has declined by only 2% from 1996-2006, though that slightly outpaces the industry-wide drop of 0.5% for the entire industry (1995-2005, all figures in absolute terms). Though I can’t be bothered to dig up roughly comparable statistics, this 2005 Washington Post article indicates that US newspaper circulation has been plummeting for 20 years, due to restrictions on telemarketing and competition from the Internet/cable TV, 3 problems that have not proven major obstacles for the Japanese industry.

Still, I’m shocked that they’re just pulling the rug out from what was a great service (I mean, you wanted to read the full report on recently unearthed diaries by Major General Taro Utsunomiya describing the March 1st uprising in 1919 colonial Korea, didn’t you?). Ah well, none of this will matter come April when I’ll more than likely become a print subscriber anyway.

17 thoughts on “SHOCKING! is ending their excellent “Today’s morning edition” feature”

  1. Do you think us in the industry would let everyone suck our blood for FREE until we get hematorrhea ,You filthy bloggers.
    If you want to read then SUBSCRIBE!

  2. “Do you think us in the industry would let everyone suck our blood for FREE”

    You may fight it but I am pretty sure the Japanese public (with the help of consumer-friendly deregulation) will eventually be able to bluff the media companies into offering full-on free content online. So, get ready for some blood to spill out of that urethra of yours (that IS what “hematorrhea” means, right?)

  3. Should read Utsunomiya article though,or go down to your nearest Japanese cultural center to read it.First class document on colonial Korea.

  4. You’re right Ace. His entries detailing military denials of the slaughter of 30 activists in a church during the March 1 uprising and monetary support of Russian revolutionaries during the Russo-Japanese War are very interesting. Right now the entire article is available on the link I provided, but you would demand that people *subscribe* to read this gem, or take a trip to the library? Pfff

  5. Obviously it’s your fault! As soon as you post that something is good for the customer, of course they’re going to get rid of it!

    Maybe you should ask them to keep posting videos of grown adults eating cookies and saying ‘oishii!’

  6. Yes, this blog has a mysterious power to shut down websites as soon as I mention them (kind of like how I shut down IZA). It’s like we’re Penny-Arcade or something.

    No, I think my next target will be the excessive use of the “akaji/kuroji” dichotomy in business reporting (who’s keeping their financial records with *ink* these days anyway?). That’ll show ’em

  7. ”Right now the entire article is available on the link I provided, ”
    This is not the full report on Utsunomiya,AdamuThere’s more detail about the diary.Go to the library!(or subscribe).

  8. Why the hell would I ever want to subscribe to an actual newspaper and just get a lot of pages to throw out everyday when I only want to read a few article? Maybe I would consider a very cheap online subscription, but in general I don’t really care about any one newspaper for a regular subscription to be worth it.

    Library is one thing, but if you’re outside Japan it won’t be easy to find a library that has subscriptions to the Japanese newspaper services. Ok, maybe at decent libraries in some Asian countries, but what option is there when I’m back home in New Jersey? Pretty much nothing.

  9. If you are living in the tri-state region,you can subscribe either Asahi,Yomiuri or Nikkei if you like.MF(at least that was the case 20 years ago).

    I confess I don’t subscribe any paper myself,for I read six of them in my office almos daily.But still there is some small bit of pieces I can pick up(and not in the net)in the paper.And this small bit makes big difference in long time span.

    Utsunomiya may looks a very evil figure if only you read the online piece but extended report in the paper suggests he had certain understanding to the nationalism of the oppressed and this insight was inherited to his son,Tokuma.
    I never knew General Utsunomiya was father of late MP Utsunomiya Tokuma.Famous liberal and head of the Asia-Africa parliamentalian league in the diet,which was very active during 50’s and 60’s and abid supporter of inter Korean dialogue.He was also the publisher of the monthly DISARMAMENT軍縮 magazine.
    And you wouldn’t know a thing about this from the net if I didn’t tell you, Adamu.

    Three cheers for the old media.

  10. Those subscriptions in the US are astronomically expensive. Unless I were a salaryman I wouldn’t bother.

    In the interest of fairness, Asahi *does* offer full access to the day’s articles for the price of a magazine subscription (525 yen/month). It’s pretty reasonable and maybe an option once I settle into life in Japan and decide that the 4000 yen/month print subscription might not be for me.

    Thanks for the info on Utsunomiya (there’s brief mention of his understanding of the Koreans’ cause online, so he didn’t come off as “evil” as much as “dastardly and conniving”), but is my missing out on this without a trip to the library (there is a really good Japan Foundation library in Bkk btw) really a victory for the old media? I can understand a certain need to create scarcity to make the newspaper valuable, but what purpose is served by gutting the original article and offering only a mildly interesting and possibly misleading version online? It’s a little better than the worthless 2-line articles, but maybe that’s part of the reason they stopped this service.

    I’ll stop commenting on this change until next week though because Asahi is apparently launching a revamped (though maybe scaled back) subscription service:

    【「今日の朝刊」の名称変更と収録内容変更のお知らせ 2007/01/29更新】


  11. The bonus of subscribing is portability, of course. You can take the paper with you on the train or to a cafe without lugging your laptop around.

    Interestingly, the English-language Nikkei Weekly costs less in the US than it does in Japan, at least at newsstand prices–something like $3 US vs. 500 yen.

    And I don’t think any Japanese newspaper in the US is nearly as expensive as the Financial Times in Japan–$974 US a year!

  12. The people who by the FT in Japan are the sort of people that either get paid vast sums (sample salary offer I saw was 65 million yen a year) or the sub is paid by the company anyway. I agree with MF about the annoyance of having to dispose of tons of newsprint when you really only need a few articles. That’s why I never subscribed to any. Besides, if I wanted to know about Utsunomiya’s ideas then I would try and get my hands on a copy of his diary rather than a newspaper article….

  13. “I would try and get my hands on a copy of his diary rather than a newspaper article….”

    Which is said to be coming out from Iwanami next month.So postpone your trip to JF library,Adamu!

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