For more than a century, Rafu Shimpo has been the leading paper for the Japanese community in Los Angeles, operating through landmark moments in history and surviving closure during World War II. But the paper, founded in 1903, is in danger of shutting down by the end of the year, say publishers who blame declining subscribers and mounting costs.
But they are taking steps they hope will turn things around, including launching a Twitter campaign to broaden the paper's appeal to new readers and marshaling support online with the hashtag campaign #OurHistoryYourRafu.
"The only time the paper wasn't printing was when it was forced to close during World War II," said Gwen Muranaka, English editor in chief at Rafu Shimpo. During that time, its publisher and staff were sent to internment camps, like many in the Japanese American community, she said.
Today, in order to stay open, said Muranaka, the paper will have to broaden its appeal to the younger generation of Japanese Americans, many of whom have moved away from the cultural and historical center of Little Tokyo.
"The challenge is to find these folks and to create content this is really going to resonate with them," said Muranaka. "I think it's going to be a little different than what we've been doing in the past."
The loss of Rafu Shimpu, and other ethnic media outlets like it, could be a big loss for ethnic communities, said Odette Alcazaren-Keeley with New America Media.
"It's the ethnic small businesses that are the lifeline, the lifeblood of ethnic media and it's a synergy," said Alcazaren-Keeley. "Ethnic media also provide that life support and sustain and expand the growth of ethnic small businesses."