What if China Had Bought Newsweek?
In Letter from China, Evan Osnos elaborates the differences between journalism in China and America, recent bold strides by Chinese journalists, and what it might have looked like had China’s Southern Media Group bought Newsweek:
The fact is that neither side truly understands the other in this case. The prospective buyers are not wrong that they have a right to bid on an American news organization, but they are wrong that they had the remotest shot of succeeding. For the moment, the spiritual gap between them and American news organizations is larger than even the most sober Chinese media baron probably imagines. A sale of this kind is, for the moment, beyond imagination.
But it’s also true that Xiang Xi is not being cynical when he says that most Americans don’t grasp the “desires of idealistic Chinese media workers.” Much of the discussion about the Newsweek bid has been about the Chinese government’s campaign to project “soft power” abroad, and that is relevant. But that is also losing sight of some nuances in the world of Chinese media. Like every newspaper in China, those in the Southern Media Group are owned by the state, and the party appoints the top editors. But the Southern Media Group is not the People’s Daily, and the differences are worth acknowledging.