UPDATE: The Death of a Shanghai Newspaper

Written by Julen Madariaga on April 1st, 2010

Last week I did a post where I gave three reasons why I thought the Oriental Morning Post was going to the dogs. This week I read an article on the DeluxZilla blog from Shanghai that makes the following observation:

Despite being a party newspaper, I am more a fan of the Shanghai Morning Post (新闻辰报) than the relatively less government-oriented Oriental Morning Post (东方日报). I find the Shanghai Morning Post to have more stories related to the city I live in, though the Shanghai paper sells out quicker outside my apartment building than the Oriental Morning Post, so I often have to settle for the Oriental if I make it outside past 10 a.m.

When I read this I realized why I almost never see the SMP and I am stuck with the Oriental. In the convenience store down my road it is exactly the same situation: most mornings the SMP is sold out by the time I get there, whereas the Oriental is still hanging like a stale fish when I am back from work in the evenings.

To confirm this information I sought the aid of a professional. Not the local Lawson’s store, but a proper newspaper selling stand:


Since newspapers is their core business, the ladies in the stand usually get more copies of the morning papers, which means that they have both the SMP and the Oriental available until late.

The first thing I noticed is that they clearly dislike the Oriental. They have it buried under a lot of magazines and every time I have been there they have tried to convince me to buy the SMP instead. It clearly looks like someone is not doing their homework on the distribution channels. Apart from this, here is what I found:

  • Every day they sell about 3 times more copies of the SMP than the Oriental - approx 60 to 20.
  • The newspapers that are not sold can be returned up to a certain number (not specified) and the rest is just thrown away.

These are just anecdotal observations, but all seems to indicate that a good part of the 400,000 copies posted by the Oriental end up right in the rubbish bin, or else used as toilet paper in the nearby construction site.

Incidentally, the Oriental today opens again with the full page Mont Blanc watch. A jolly nice picture I have to say, but not very satisfying because those dark colors tend to leave stains when used on damp places.

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Comments so far ↓

  1. Apr
    Julen Madariaga

    Clarification: this is not an April’s fool joke. The Oriental can be considered to be a joke, perhaps, but it is not particularly an April one. It happens 3 times a week.

    [Reply to this comment]

  2. May


    [Reply to this comment]

  3. May

    And, whilst we’re at it, 南京交通台 and 南京音乐台 beat anything Shanghai has hands down . . .

    [Reply to this comment]

  4. May
    Julen Madariaga

    Sure, but Oriental has an advantage over those you mention:

    It is actually one of the 2 big morning papers in the biggest city in China, and it is respected by sites that link to it (OK not so many, but it happens) and by advertisers who pay big bucks because some PR agency must be telling them that the Oriental is a major paper.

    PLUS- you didn’t see yesterday’s issue. I really think that beat your Nanjing pamphlets hands down. I will try to write something about it later.

    [Reply to this comment]

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