Denver's Japanese community knew it was coming: Even before the current angst and pain that newspapers in general are feeling thanks to declining circulation and dire economic times, the city's Japanese newspaper, the Rocky Mountain Jiho, shut down. Its owners, Eiichi and Yoriko Imada, had been subsidizing the weekly newspaper, which had one or two pages of news and features in English followed by a handful of pages of local and international news in Japanese, out of their own pockets for years. The advertising wasn't paying for the publication. But the paper had been part of the community for decades (they bought it from its previous owner in the 1980s), so they couldn't afford to keep it running anymore.
It was the Imadas who got me to write a weekly column about life from a Japanese American perspective on a volunteer basis, and suggested the name "Nikkei View." I started posting the columns online and I've never stopped, eventually turning the column into a Web site that covered not just JA, but also Asian American Pacific Islander issues.
Meanwhile, the Jiho ran out of money, time and energy. That was several years ago.
Now, even older, more established community newspapers -- which are among the "vernacular press," or foreign language media that serve immigrant communities throughout the U.S. -- in areas with Japanese populations are starting to shut down. The San Francisco area has shockingly lost both its Japanese papers in recent months.
The Nichi Bei Times was closed two months ago, and the Hokubei Mainichi just announced its imminent closure in October, but finally ceased publication and cleaned out its offices this week.