Case Study: WEBRONZA – Asahi Shimbun (Japan)

Based on an interview xxx date

The name of the publication and / or company

WEBRONZA – Asahi Shimbun

Established

June 2010

Web Address

webronza.asahi.com

Form of the company

A section of The Asahi Shimbun Company

Describe your site or business in few words.

Webronza is a renewed and online version of a liberal, forum-like magazine called ‘Ronza’ in Japan. ‘Ronza’ started in 1994 but was faced with suspension of publication in 2008 due to its small circulation.

The main contents of ‘Webronza’ fall into the following 5 categories: ‘Politics/International’, ‘Economy/Employment’, ‘Society/Media’, ‘Science/Environment’, ‘Culture/Entertainment’. With around 30 writers for each category, almost 150 writers,in and out of the company, are updating their opinion on latest issues.

In addition, special edition and features are updated on time, and literary reportages are also published. These are not free of charge with JPY 735 (tax included) for a package of all categories. JPY 262 (tax include) is for one category if contents are not subscribed to in a package. What’s more, even if there are free contents, ‘Webronza’ is making an effort to transfer their subscribers into those who pay to read. These contents include: corner of young researchers, overseas information, noteworthy blogs and NPO information, to name a few.

Staff numbers

Who’s creating the content

  • 2 full-time staff
  • 2 part-time staff for editing
  • 3 part-time staff for sales or technology

How they make money

Revenue models and sustainability

  • Subscribe fees as mentioned.
  • No revenue from advertising.
  • There are around 2500 subscribers as of January 2012. It is confidential to the public.

What would be the most important thing on your road to sustainability?

This business was started as an attempt to find out the following 2 things. First, to see what a newspaper can offer as an online media requiring subscribe fees. Second, to examine the possibility of money ties in its business model.

As a news institution in essence, Asahi has not regarded business as its ultimate goal from the beginning. However, it does not mean that it will let deficit happen without doing anything. Now it is balancing its attitude towards business.

Collect opinions and thoughts of good quality and become, or be regarded as, one of the infrastructure of social discuss. We think that is important to our road towards sustainability. In order to realize that, we feel it necessary to stand out from other online media, to promote our own uniqueness, and to make our brand a reliable one.

Today’s Internet tends to be filled with irrational, emotional, sometimes extreme point of view. In this kind of situation, we aim to create ‘arena of opinion’ where rational, positive, and serious debate can take place. That has been our goal from the beginning, and we find it still vital to us now.