This article on the Upper House election, appearing just two calendar days (in real time a little less) before voting day, is a good reminder of TIME "magazine"'s embrace of the Internet. Yes, it's an AP wire, not self-generated content. It provides an excellent and timely overview for people who have nothing more than a passing interest in the Japanese political scene. It tells you that TIME, in contrast to the mostly weekly-content online Newsweek, is serious in its drive to be a day-by-day, consistent presence on your PCs. And a slew of professional blogs also draw in many, if sometimes maniacal, eyeballs to the TIME website on the cheap.
The fact that TIME relies on an AP wire also speaks to the resource limitations of the retail MSM. Only the wire services have the resources to build up the knowledge, expertise, and contacts to cover overseas issues with depth and accuracy. Which means that in-house correspondents will lean towards interview-rich, local-color pieces, the Pocari Sweat, Calpis meets Hiroshima oysters, Yubari melon stories....
That was not nice. So, to restore some balance, I'll point out a flaw in the AP article:
In the most punishing scandal, the pension records of 50 million benefit claims were discovered missing… The government has not said how much the lost claims are worth, but the Communist Party estimates it at $165 billion — a substantial chunk of the $1.25 trillion in total deposits.
That's a bad quote to end the pension riff on, since it gives the impression to the casual reader that the money is lost to the pensioners for good. In fact it is likely that the bulk, perhaps most, of the claims will ultimately reconciled, possibly even before much of the payment is due. But this is what happens when a correspondent is unable to work with the native language and must rely on assistants for veracity