Sankei & Asahi: Both Newspapers Move On To Survive

Last week we got a couple of remarkable news about what happened to the industry that usually bring us news stories about the world on the move.

The Sankei Shimbun[J], Japan’s 7th largest newspaper in the number of its circulation, set up a new page specifically focusing on Internet services and web industry trends as the first case of Japanese major newspapers.   The page is inserted on every Thursday’s morning edition and is expected to be accompanied with several ads by web2.0 companies.

In commemoration of the new page launch on the paper’s July 30th issue, Japanese popular video sharing site Nico Nico Douga’s live channel[J] program guide was placed in the middle of terrestrial TV timetables.

Sankei's TV Program Timetable Page

Sankei's Webpage

The edition features an Internet slang “Tsuda-ru” (refer to this), blogs under the Enjoh and officially permitted reproduction case of Cyborg 009 drawings uploaded on illustration SNS Pixiv[J] (read stories associated with Pixiv).

Meanwhile, the Asahi Shimbun, Japan’s 2nd largest newspaper in the number of its circulation, launched a mobile SNS called “Sanko People[J]“, and  it was publicized to the first 1,000 beta users.   Asahi developed the service in association with open source SNS program developer Tejima-ya[J] and Tokyo-based web entertainment service developer Geisha Tokyo Entertainent (GTE)[J] (See these stories for more about GTE).    The users are allowed to interact with GTE’s chatterbot on the service.

Sanko People's Screenshot

The service targets young people subscribing to no newspaper, and provides them with knowledge sharing opportunities by enabling comment postings and social bookmarking on developing news stories.   Asahi runs the service on ad-revenue basis and expects to engage 1 million users and to mark annual sales of USD 2.2 million in three years.

Both of the services introduced above are not a direct approach to gaining the numbers of subscribers and revenue for news paper industry.   They’re writhing themselves to find ways to survive, and forced to do further more from now on.

Via IT Media News[J] and Mycomi Journal[J]

CNET Japan To Be A Part Of Asahi Newspaper

Logo of CBS Interactive

Logo of CNET Networks Japan

CBS Interactive, which is the parent company of CNET, and Asahi Newspaper announced the two companies had agreed that the ownership of CNET Networks Japan[J] would be completely handed over to Asahi Newspaper on September 1st.

CNET Networks Japan owns and runs several Japan-based tech websites including CNET Japan[J], ZDNet Japan[J], GameSpot Japan[J] and[J] (a website for trainspotters.)

Reportedly, Asahi will take on all 50 editorial and sales employees working with CNET Networks Japan.

IT news media Ascii says on the website[J], Asahi used to be relatively stronger on IT news compared to other Japanese news media.   In 1990s, the company set up a bureau in Silicon Valley and dispatch IT news correspondents there to keep updating IT news category for all day.  It launched a corporate website for the first time in Japanese news media history, and was publishing several popular PC news magazines.

However, unlike other publishers such as Nikkei BP and IT Media[J], Asahi has no in-depth IT story on the website.   Unlike, Asahi has no ability to attract website visitors.   Just as New York Times(NYT) enforced its web business by takng over, Asahi may have good ad sales revenue, especially from IT industry, by taking CNET Japan.

But there used to be rumors that many editorial staffs have quit CNET after Lehman Brothers’ shockwave hit the world market.

Ascii ended the story with an interesting comment quoted from Asahi’s market survey report.

NYT paid as much as USD45M for taking over, but it boosted NYT’s web business sales for as little as 2%.   It tells us how difficult web business is, and we need to keep our eyes on NYT’s further steps to improve revenue.

How about the case of Asahi and CNET Japan?

Asahi Newspaper Tweets Soccer and RSS Mixed

Asahi Newspaper

As we reported a week ago, national newspaper Asahi Shimbun began a twitter experiment reporting soccer match by national team for the World Cup.

The tweeted reports were well-received by web users, but some web people worried that the too frank and personal-sounding tweets may make the main readers of the newspaper, elders, upset. Then the tweets was switched to the latest news from their RSS feed, kind of boring, which web users expected somehow as what traditional company behaves.

However, today they stopped news notification on the twitter and made another live report of a national team match, then back to news RSS again after it. The number of followers is now over 6,000. It seems that Asahi Shimbun is using
carrot-and-stick for this social media to shed its square image.

Japanese Newspaper Finally Tweets

For the first case in Japanese newspaper’s history, Asahi Shimbun, one of the country’s nationwide major papers, set up an account for Twitter[J] today, and is running play-by-play tweet about the scene of a preliminary match for this year’s football world championship, Japan vs. Qatar, which is now being played at Nissan Stadium in Yokohama.


Asahi says, this is an experimental trial and is investigating how much it impresses an audience and the paper’s subscribers.

Major Publishers Co-launch Non-UGC Encyclopedia Site

Kotobank's Logo

Asahi Newspaper EC Navi's Logo

Asahi Newspaper, the Internet portal company EC Navi[J] and major publishers like Kodansha and Shogakukan jointly launched Thursday an online encyclopedia containing 430,000 words, which is called “Kotobank[J]“.   The service is provided for free, and the joint venture expects to earn USD1M in FY2009 from Overture[J] ads appeared on the result pages of Kotobank.

The revenues from ad sales are shared among the publishers which show appropriate results in response to a user’s request.   The venture expects another publishers and contents holders to join the team in the future, and to increase its content volume up to 200M words in three years.

The participating publishers used to sell their paper-printed news encyclopedia products at bookstores, and annual sales volumes for all such products accounted for 3.5M copies at its peak.   But recently most publishers were forced to stop publishing due to declining in its sales.

Asahi’s project manager said confidently, on behalf of the entire venture,  the new site would be more reliable since its contents were written by intellectuals and experts from various industries and academic societies, in contrast to UGC-based websites such as Wikipedia and popular search engines.