I don’t feel mournful for the impending doom for traditional news media. In fact, I really would like to celebrate it. However, the Globe and Mail has a piece about the contrasting growth of the English daily newspaper the China Daily which generally reads like a Chinese foreign ministry press release. It’s come a long way from the days when I was a student in Beijing and it was the only English language reading material outside of my proxy server to evade the Great Firewall (GFW). Side bar, I thought I was rather clever back then. I don’t know how VPNs work now, but I used my dorm room’s phone connection to dial into my AOL account (because in 2000 I still had dial-up at home) and it somehow got past the GFW. Sad, though it may be, China Daily may have a little bit of a surge compared to the availability of USA Today or some other tanking American broadsheet. But, the question becomes is that where people throughout the world are getting their news? The Globe and Mail article claims that, as a result of traditional Western media creating a paywall to supplement ad revenue, they will not be able to compete with the free China Daily circulating at the Dubai Holiday Inn or some other choice locale. Apparently, the Chinese government’s media mouth pieces are throwing cash and people, correspondents and coverage where the West has downsized. Personally, I think they are throwing money away for naught. Old boy’s reference to the documentary Page One should be the first indicator. That documentary came out over a year ago. The mourning period is over. Newspapers are dead. Not literally, but their age is passed or passing. Sure, the Chinese may end up dominating the traditional news media market one day. But who cares. Most people I know (meaning ‘Mericans) get their news from The Daily Show or The Colbert Report.
The really fascinating change that I can relay to my readers is that in the twelve years or so since I first studied in China, there is an explosion of blogs related to China that didn’t exist when I was a student at Peking University. I actually started a blog then to cover my time there because I was too lazy to write home. Because of the super slow internet connection and the urge to go out and hit the bars at night, it only lasted for about 5 or 6 postings. At the time, I couldn’t conceive of any other blogs out there covering politics, culture or even economic news. Now there is a ton of them that are well done and connected to bigger media activities. And Twitter…well let’s not even begin there. So, a lot’s changed and I’m happy about that. Sad that you will have to read the Chinese made blah rather than American made blah the next time you are stuck at a HoJos for your industry’s annual conference. Maybe instead you can use it to dry out your loafers, and pull out your smart phone and read some real news.