This has been a hell of a month for Western journalism in China. Bloomberg’s credibility/quality/dignity crisis is still ongoing, and now the New York Times’ Chinese-language site is ‘under review’ and potentially heading for the chopping block.
It’s hard to blame the Times too much on this one; the site has been blocked in the mainland for ages, and makes essentially no money. Nevertheless, it is still an invaluable resource for its small-but-important readership who posses VPNs but who are not necessarily English-proficient. If this had happened in any other month, it would probably be met with a disappointing sigh, but in light of the Bloomberg controversy it has garnered more attention as “another huge media group potentially pulling out of China.” It’s not as climactic as it seems, and as Reuters reports:
New York Times Co Chief Executive Officer Mark Thompson said the publisher is going to keep all its money losing operations under review – including those in China – as he seeks to negotiate the newspaper’s increasing shift towards a digital landscape. […]
“The fact that we can’t be seen officially inside China means the revenue is not as large as we would have wished it to have been,” he said.
“If it’s a loss-making operation, they are all under constant review.” […]
“By taking some of the journalism of the Times and bringing it to Chinese readers it’s a perfectly valid thing for us to do. It doesn’t really address the issue of the main site,” Thompson said.
NYTimes Chinese, we will be sad to see you go, but as long as your English-language editors
don’t have their balls drop off hold firm against Chinese censorship you will still have more credibility than a certain other international news organization.