For China’s Web Portals, Controversy Sells

The Wall Street Journal looks at the role of China’s in the recent spate of Internet scandals:

Take the scandal known in China as “Tigergate.” In the fall, a farmer in China’s Shaanxi province spied a wild South China , believed to be extinct, and snapped a picture of it — or so he said. The photo spread like wildfire on the Chinese Internet, drawing self-styled citizen reporters, panels of academic experts and even into a debate about whether it was real or not.

…Presiding over it all were the Web portals, which thrive on the constant and careful fanning of debate. Tigergate is one of several Chinese Internet scandals that have stirred attention recently. Sexually explicit featuring a Chinese rap star circulated on China’s Internet, causing a major uproar. Another scandal emerged over a doctored picture of antelope blissfully coexisting with a controversial new railway line to Tibet.

It has become a predictable pattern: China’s portals amplify and orchestrate the incidents for consumption, driving to their sites.

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