Before I start this rant, I want to make clear that I have no beef with Japantoday and I am not trying to damage their name (if that is possible at all), these are just my personal views and opinions.
I have been living in Japan for over 8 years now and just like back home I always liked to keep up to date with the local news. For foreigners in Japan there is not really a broad selection other than Japantoday or Japantimes. IF you want to read Japanese news in English. (unless I missed something?).
A couple of years ago there also used to be a forum/community for foreigners in Japan hosted at gaijinpot which is owned by Gplusmedia, who also owns Japantoday, so it was the natural choice to visit Japantoday for news and then go to the gaijinpot forums to join the discussions.
Sadly, after a couple of years they shut the forums down to move to facebook. A logical move perhaps but I never really liked facebook. I found it disappointing because the forums were a huge source of information about anything Japan and had a rather nice community.
From the start, I liked and disliked using Japantoday, kind of like a love/hate relationship. My main issue (and of many other users) was their moderating team. They often removed comments without a good reason. Usually they gave the excuse that the comment ‘contained vulgar language’ even though no profanity was used at all.
Of course, they are in their right. It is THEIR website. However, I felt, they just unnecessarily censored users and blocked them from having an open discussion about the subject. Wouldn’t you want an active community that would be able to discuss these topics freely and produce more hits? Maybe they were afraid to be sued for libel or slander?
Although I have to admit, they are trying harder recently, its still lacking. Yes, I admit, Tokyo is the main-hub for foreigners AND the capital of Japan but it would be nice to see more variation and items about other cities and events in Japan.
Their Picture of the Day section shows similar patterns. Sakura season nakamaguro 1, Sakura season nakamaguro 2, Sakura season nakamaguro 3. All posted within one week. Or their a person walking in front of something series (unfortunately it seems these photos have been taken down).
It wasn’t just the pattern that bothered me. The quality and composition of some of these pictures were quite bad. Lot’s of grain and framed in an unusual way. Not material to write home about. So, to put that on the frontpage of such a big site was.. well.. odd.
Somewhere in 2015 or 2016 Japantoday started to allow “news”-items from another Tokyo blog called rocket”news”. So while they wanted to have this professional image of a newssite they started adding this fluff from rocket”news”. I don’t mind Japantoday having some pulp articles to their site to balance with the massive amount of depressing news items but in my opinion the rocket”news” articles were not the articles suitable for this site. The articles looked like they had been written by 12 year olds, filled with their own feelings and lame oneliners that made your skin crawl.
If they wanted proper content, why not arrange a deal with TokyoCheapo, or Osakabob, or Kotaku Japan even. There must be a ton of other sources they could use to add interesting content to the website.
Now, let’s talk a little bit about the layout.
*They have update their layout during the writing of this article.
At first glance the new website looks pretty good. Big images. Everyone likes big images.
Well, this is on a 1440 x 900 resolution. Now I’m not entirely sure what the standard monitor resolution is nowadays but even people on a smaller resolution should be able to see more of the site’s content. You don’t want to make your user have to scroll to access content right from the bat.
But lets scroll down for now. When we scroll down we will finally be able to see the rest of the site.
Or at least 50% of it. There is still lot’s of “interesting” content at the bottom that you need to scroll to get to.
So, the new site looks nice but it looks a bit confusing. It’s easy to lose track of news items because everything looks so similar and the articles are all over the place. The older site had an easier navigation and could fit more news items in a smaller area.
However when you look at the site on the mobile phone, it looks a lot better. I assume this new website was more geared to the increasing amount of mobile users.
The comment section is still an issue with the new website. Many users were not satisfied with the older comment section as there was no way to edit a post after pressing send. This hasn’t changed in the new version.
The spellchecker in the new version is an unnecessary function that is already implemented standard in firefox and I believe also in chrome browsers with the wavy red line, so not sure why they added that. Or… now that I think of it….. was this a solution to the “edit message” function??? Then I could understand it.
I’m also having issues with the mobile comment form where I type a capital and the following text becomes capital as well. So have to press [arrow up], type first letter, press [arrow up] again to continue.
But this could be only on my end. No, other users have confirmed this issue.
I’ve tried to reach out to Japantoday with some bugs and offer some suggestions on how they could improve the site in my opinion (not that im a professional) but I would like this site to succeed if not just for the community. But so far, being ignored. Oh well, that’s their choice.
Anyway forget about my rant and lets see what the audience have to say.