China is the largest Internet market in the world. How do Western news outlets operate there with their Chinese-language online editions? Hsiang Iris Chyi, of the University of Texas at Austin, and James Ian Tennant, of Mount Royal University, conducted interviews with senior managers to see how The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), Financial Times (FT), Reuters, and The New York Times (NYT) operate in China.
There are geographic, language, cultural, and political barriers to overcome in order to gain access to this market, the study states.
WSJ relies mostly on translated material, whereas 50% of content on FT and Reuters websites are original content in Chinese. Balancing between local perspectives and original reporting, and the authentic content by Western journalists is difficult. Experts with local perspectives are needed to determine relevance for local audience, the authors write.
Censorship is also an issue. The managers interviewed stated that censorship does not affect their editorial judgment. Still, it creates a pressure, as it also jeopardizes advertising revenue all the sites rely upon.
China has proven to be a hard media market to navigate, though remains a tempting one, the article concludes.
Picture: Shanghai at night by Stefan Wagener, license CC BY 2.0