Net (2-channel) people corner national newspaper to near death in Japan

Mainichi newspaper is considered as one of the major national newspapers in Japan, along with Nikkei, Asahi, Yomiuri and Sankei.  Yet, it is now at the verge of breakdown by people on the Net, particularly on notorious "2 channel" (anonimous bulletin board).

This article is based on the summary of events on Gigazine site.  Thank you, Gigazine-san.

It all started from series of articles on Mainichi's English site column, "Mainichi Daily News - WaiWai".  It is supposed to be a small and soft column to introduce Japanese everyday life and culture, but its editor Ryann Conell has gone too far and too soft.  He picked quite obscene and unreliable news in Japanese version of tabloids and wrote articles based on them.  As a woman, I hesitate to introduce what he wrote, and now the original site is gone, but I just say that they are so disgusting and unpermittably obscene.  Conell says he kept writing because he considers it as a separate part from the main Mainichi newspaper and he claims on his column that it is a mere translation and Mainichi does not bear responsiblity on its varidity.

The problem is that people do not read such disclaimers.  Japanese readers would understand that it is a total nonsense by looking at sources, but from the eyes of English speakers who don't know Japan very well, it is a part of a Japanese national newspaper and one of the small amount of English information about Japan.  It can be very misleading for them.  It could get away if it is a part of the original stupid tabloids or Conell's personal blog, but since it is a part of domain, it is clearly unescapable.

According to Gigazine, the column had been going on for several years, despite some internal warnings.  Finally some concerned Japanese readers started to send complaints to Mainichi since last year.  But alas, Mainichi somehow ignored them.

In April 2008, people over at 2 channel picked it up, and started rallying that Mainichi is internationally spreading an inaccurate and shameful information about Japan.  On June 25, Mainichi apologized about the column, but shortly after, they announced that they would sue the people (on 2 channel) who incorrectly blame their staff on the Net.  That announcement added fuel in the fire.

2 channel people received it as the war declaration from Mainichi, and they fired the most deadly final weapon; claim e-mails to the companies who advertise on Mainichi on-line versions.

That was totally effective, and by mid-July, ads by major corporations such as Nissan, Kirin (beer), JCB (credit card) and Fujitsu disappeared from Mainichi site.  As of today, main page only carries Mainichi's own advertisements - just to fill the space.

On July 20, Mainichi raised the white flag.  They shut down Mainichi Daily News site, and again, officially apologized, with their own explanation of what happened.  Now, all you can see on former Mainichi Daily page is their apology statement.

But net people still don't accept their apology.  They cite that July 20 is the middle day of 3-day weekend, and that their apology is not serious enough.

On the bottom of such resentment, a deep distrust of net people against Mainichi and other mass media has been percolating for a long time.  They believe that Japanese mass media enjoy accusing people or companies who make mistakes, and often times, they even take up trivial things and extend it to extreme, until the accused companies go out of business.  In recent cases, for example, Senba Kiccho, Osaka's high-class restaurant, went out of business due to a scandal that they re-used left over food, and the media's hype against it was rather out-of-scale.  Mainichi, among newspapers, and TBS, among TV stations, are often the major target of Net people's resentment.

And among the executives of these media companies, there is also a deep distrust against the Internet at large, and particularly to 2 channel.  They despise the Internet, and Gigazine people believe that Mainichi executives probably rank "online version" of Mainichi as the secondary and did not pay attention, and it was one element that caused such a mess.

Net people do not have any central figure to negotiate with.  And they probably will not forgive Mainichi until Mainichi go bankrupt, given the background of their resentment.  Other traditional media also are quiet about this incident, because they do not want to get catch the fire either.