With the world’s third largest advertising market, print, broadcast and digital mediaare thriving in China. Even with the active participation of propagandists and censors,China’s hybrid of state-controlled and commercial media is an incubator for fledglingmedia empires, muck-raking journalists and cutting-edge Internet platforms. Belowis a description of key media channels for corporate communications and marketingcampaigns.
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China is a leading newspaper market with over 2,000in print and over 100 million total copies sold daily(compared to less than 1,500 in the United States and51 million total copies sold daily). Unlike their Westernpeers, Chinese newspapersare not in financial distress;print news media are still veryhealthy. Although most media in China are ultimately state-owned, newspapers and magazines can be divided intotwo categories:
. Almost all of the independent-commercialpublications are part of media groups led by Party orgovernment newspapers, but they behave differently.Both kinds of newspapers must compete in the market,rely on circulation and advertisement for revenue, andare subject to the same system of censorship. However,official newspapers are older, conservative institutionsthat tend to act as the mouthpieces of the governmentor Party; whereas independent-commercial papers werecreated after a wave of commercialization spurred byeconomic reforms and are more consumer driven.While both categories of newspapers are capable ofproducing a professional level of journalism, officialmedia tend to be fairly sanitized, and the independent-commercial outlets can verge on the sensational.Consumers gravitate towards the independent-commercial newspapers because of their hard-wonreputation for investigative journalism and tantalizingcontent. However, bureaucrats, business leaders, andothers looking for the latest information and insights ongovernment policies and data, cannot afford to ignorethe official newspapers. PR professionals and marketersin China are keenly aware of the value of appealing toboth categories in order to reach a broad readership.Most newspapers are localized, and different regionshave distinctive characteristics. For example, Beijingpapers tend to be morepolitically oriented; Guangzhou,on the other hand bordersfreewheeling Hong Kong, soits newspapers often push the limits of governmentcensors. Every major city has one or two local paperswith wide distribution, but few reach national audiences.Like their peers in the West, most people in China tendto read their local paper.This provincial focus remains in place even though mostlocal newspapers host dynamic websites. However, theInternet has changed the way stories travel inside China.A popular story can quickly become national news, evenwhen local cadres attempt to suppress it. For example,when Xiamen officials attempted to use local mediato downplay protests over perceived dangers of a localchemical factory, the story was widely covered by othernewspapers around the country and spread despite thelocal efforts to suppress it.Other developments to note: most major newspapersnow provide an online version; some use
(aChinese equivalent of Twitter) and other social mediaaccounts. Many – such as
– have iPad or iPhone apps as well.
Business News Media
During the 1990s, China’s market economy began to expand rapidly and business media flourished along with it.While chief editors in other sectors remained hyper-sensitive to government controls in the immediate aftermathof the Tiananmen Square events of 1989, those in business media were given more leeway to operate and covercapital markets and at times act as watchdogs for the fledgling market economy. The China Securities RegulatoryCommission (CSRC), the PRC’s equivalent of the US Securities and Exchange Commission, explicitly supportedbusiness media serving as “unofficial regulators” to monitor financial corruption.Many of today’s most talented Chinese journalists launched their careers in the business press, which at thetime offered higher salaries and more freedom to operate. By 2000, with economic reforms bolstered by China’spreparations to enter the WTO,business media diversified andmultiplied with many new titlesreporting on the wider aspects ofChina’s political economy. However,while the government values the roleof an independent press in a market economy, it still favors its own media and uses these resources to maintain itsinfluence. For example, the CSRC designates certain papers and magazines, such as the
China Security News
as the only official forums for listed companies to disclose financial reports and official statements.
“ Most newspapersare localized ”“ ..most talented Chinese journalists launched theircareers in the business press ”
Yangtze Evening Post
South Metropolis News
Yangcheng Evening News
Qilu Evening News
Xinmin Evening News
Yanzhao Metropolis News
Peninsula City Daily
Source: Baidu Zhidao (Media claims of their size of circulationare unverifiable; this list is for reference only and indicatesrelative market position of China’s leading newspapers.)
Top 20 Newspapers by Circulation