The Yomiuri Shimbun boasts that it is the most-read newspaper in the world owing to a "certified" daily circulation that tops 9.2 million. The Wall Street Journal, a truly international newspaper, reports daily circulation of about 1.5 million.

These figures represent physical copies, but by now everyone knows digital media is where it's at. What they usually don't know is how digital media works, and I'm not talking about Facebook or Twitter, but rather dedicated news providers. Legitimate, long-standing outlets have expanded their positions online and are struggling with business models. Should they charge for digital content? How do they protect copyrighted material? What's the best way to extend their reach on social media?

The biggest provider in Japan is Yahoo News, which, according to media monitoring corporation Nielsen, has 22.8 million users who access the site via computers and 23.7 million who do so on their mobile devices, resulting in 10 billion page views a month. In the July issue of Bungei Shunju, freelance journalist Takashi Uesugi writes that Yahoo is the first site these people check when they wake up in the morning.