Bootlegging salt is one thing. Filling a library with pirated books is another. But launching a copycat news site ripping off one of the most famous Western news publications? Now, that’s true art.
A few months ago, a curious Chinese edition of the “Washington Post” emerged on the internet. Its content largely mirrored the US edition’s, the same journalists were credited on stories. Soon, the site had a decent amount of followers in China, eager to read the posted articles, mostly detailing the hardships that foreign companies faced when entering China. The whole thing looked super legit.
However, as it turns out, it was anything but.
Readers soon began to notice that this Chinese “Washington Post” didn’t only include articles from the original newspaper, but also featured pieces that were taken from China’s official Xinhua news agency. Then, when the Financial Times asked the US publishers of the Post, it turned out that they had no clue about the Chinese-language site, nor had they authorized the site in any form.
The owner of the fake news website, Sun Media, has now changed the layout of the site and removed the “Washington Post” banner after being contacted by the paper. Reportedly, Sun Media did have a contract to translate and distribute some Washington Post articles, but they were never granted permission to actually use the paper’s brand as their own.
All in all, the Post has been rather forgiving about the whole “misunderstanding.”
“We believe this is a simple misunderstanding about the contract and we are working with them to correct it,” a spokesperson told the Financial Times.
Here’s what the site looks like now:
Well, let’s just hope that they are better at reporting news than reading contracts.
By Máté Mohos
[Images via Financial Times]
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