News Across the Great Wall: World News Organizations’ Web Strategies for the China Market

TitleNews Across the Great Wall: World News Organizations’ Web Strategies for the China Market
Publication TypeConference Paper
Author(s)Chyi, H. I.
Affiliation (1st Author)School of Journalism, University of Texas at Austin, USA
Section or WGJournalism Research and Education Section
DateWed 26 June
Slot CodeJRE W4c
Slot Code (Keyword)JRE W4c
Time of Session16:00-17:30
Session Title Journalists and Social Media – what will the future hold? Theme II: Innovations in Journalism
Submission ID6136

This study, based on a multi-national research project, explores how major news organizations around the world are courting online readers in China. In 2008, China surpassed the U.S. as the largest Internet market in the world. Today, with 538 million users and a penetration rate of 40 percent, China’s online population continues to grow. However, news as a cultural product is constantly under the scrutiny by Chinese authorities. This partly explains why China’s Internet market, despite being the largest in the world, has remained underexplored. Unlike Coca Cola or McDonald’s, news produced by most foreign media is not readily accessible within China. As of 2013, Internet users in China still cannot access most non-domestic Chinese-language news Web sites—including most Hong Kong-based sites. But a handful of forerunners exist. The following high-profile news organizations are exploring this seemingly lucrative media market with their Chinese-language Web operations that are generally accessible from within China,, Financial Times (U.K.), Wall Street Journal (U.S.), Reuters (U.S.), New York Times (U.S.), Chosun Ilbo (Korea), Lianhe Zaobao (Singapore), Phoenix TV (Hong Kong), United Daily News (Taiwan), and China Times (Taiwan). These nine news organizations are characterized by diverse geographical and content orientations, as well as language, cultural, and ideological differences – each case contributing to a comprehensive picture of non-domestic Chinese-language media landscape in China. They are worthy of scholarly attention because of (1) their notable status in the global and/or home markets and (2) the scale and visibility of their Chinese-language Web sites among Chinese netizens. Taken together, they represent a wide range of operating models currently implemented by major world news organizations in China and shed light on the future of journalism in the midst of international market expansion. Based on face-to-face in-depth interviews with the management team at each of these news organizations conducted during 2011-2013, this study addresses the following questions,, What is the historical context that enabled these news organizations to reach users in China? How did these news organizations overcome language, cultural, geographic, and political barriers to penetrate a remote market? What content, management, and marketing strategies characterize their Chinese-language operations? What barriers and opportunities exist for these and other international news organizations that attempt to follow suit? What social and cultural impacts does overseas news content have on Chinese Internet users and society at large? What implications do these emerging international news practices carry for globalization, localization or glocalization of news and information? And ultimately – are these news organizations changing China or are they being changed by China? This study represents a rare and important foray into the burgeoning Chinese news market that is little understood by western scholars but may hold one of the keys to newspapers’ future.

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