Changing tides of China media

By Pauline D.Loh ( China Daily ) Updated: 2014-04-18 07:23:26

As an Asian journalist working in a Chinese newsroom, I am often left in limbo, not quite fitting into the American/Australian/British expatriate crowd, and not quite part of the Chinese editors' clique. It is a voluntary isolation that allows me an objective view of the changes that seem to have taken place overnight in the last five years.

It is both an enlightening experience and a unique education.

Not so long ago, any native English speaker who could string together a sentence could hire himself out as an editor or language teacher in China and earn the price of an air ticket home. Not any more.

The quality of expatriates in the local newsroom has improved significantly. My foreign colleagues include true professionals who are here because they want to be where the action is, and they are here, too, to share their knowledge as experienced journalists. One was part of a team that produced a Pulitzer Prize-winning series.

The most striking change apparent in local media is the gradual transformation from State-administered units under the propaganda machinery to commercial corporations that need to earn their keep and still adhere to the universal newsroom missions of informing, educating and entertaining.

True, there is always the Big Budget to fall back upon, but the transformation has begun.

In such a data-hungry country as China, any media, especially exciting new forms, is embraced readily.

From print to digital, from land lines to mobile apps, the metamorphosis is skidding along at warp speed, which sometimes leaves those unwilling to change biting the dust their competitors leave behind.

Related: Shanghai city impressions

Fear and loathing up the mile-high club

Future hazy as we count the cost of warp-speed growth

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