Newspapers in Japan don’t exactly face the same difficulties as their American counterparts. Between 1999 and 2009 the circulation of Japanese morning and evening papers dropped 6.3 percent – compared to American papers who lost 10.6 percent of their readers.
In Japan, newspapers are sold in a different way. Agents, paid by commission, often go door-to-door to try to sell newspapers. These salesmen help to drive up paper sales.
Circulation is not an issue, but demographic analyses suggest it might be in the near future. Japan’s print newspaper consuming population is concentrated in the 40s, 50s, and 60s + age groups. This generation is aging and is slowly being replaced by a youthful populous that has expressed a relative disinterest in print media.
This declining interest in print media is reflected in declinng Ad revenues. Some newspapers have absorbed these losses by modernizing printing plants and making their production process more efficient. But soon newsrooms will have to shrink.
Newspaper proprietors are trying to foster interest among Japan’s youth in print media. Some Universities include newspaper article analyses in entrance exams.
I am not at all shocked to find that even papers in Japan face struggles in this new Internet age. But I was surprised to see notable differnces (compared to American papers) in their circulation declines. Perhaps this is something American newspapers can learn from – aggresive agents going door-to-door peddling newspapers! But this might not work in America. Americans aren’t acustomed to this type of behavior. This type of newspaper peddling has become a part of culture in Japan.
–edit: as reported by The Economist in The teetering giants