Shanghai Oriental Post editors are HighWritten by Julen Madariaga on May 3rd, 2010
A little update on the Oriental Morning Post. I know nobody is interested because nobody actually reads this paper (not even its editors), but for the sake of consistency I have to inform of their new exploits. Follow me in this new chapter of their fascinating spiral to hell.
The weekend’s Oriental had the following breakthroughs:
A front page headline stating that the “200,000 people at the EXPO opening day were all high”. I have no idea why they wrote that “high” in English, but it looks like a silly eye-catcher in the wake of the English Letters debate. I suspect the editor didn’t intend any double meaning, in spite of the photograph.
A 150% front page advert. When we thought the 100% front page advert was unbeatable, the Oriental strikes again. The Saturday edition had a full page advert on the front page, which turned out to be a FAKE FRONT PAGE and behind it there was the real front page with another advert of a different company. Genius!!
The May 1st edition had 18 pages, but apart from the advertisements there were 4 articles in total, all of them about the opening of the EXPO, and half of them copied from Xinhua. I am confident 1 writer/editor could have done this issue single-handedly in one afternoon.
Some Thoughts on Chinese papers
I am fed up of this Oriental Toilet Paper that comes covered in ads, and I plan to stop writing about it soon. But before I do that, let me share some thoughts that came to my mind tonight, as I went for dinner with a journalist friend:
The only real function of the Oriental is as advert-holder. The business is clearly not about journalism, but about stuffing the distribution channels with papers that go unsold, and then showing these distribution numbers to some PR agency that recommends the Oriental to advertisers as one of the mainstream papers in Shanghai.
The only possible reason why this business model works is that there are such big barriers to entry in the printed media business – mostly related to authorities permits – that nobody else takes the place of Oriental and Shanghai Morning Post. In parallel, there is a general lack of transparency, which means that nobody questions whether it is a good idea to pay money to put ads on the Oriental. I wonder how much longer this can last.
In the end of the day, this case that I treat as a joke is in fact a tragedy. The 50,000 Euros approx that advertisers pay the Oriental for one single front page are going straight to the pocket of a businessman who doesn’t give a damn for journalism. That money should be going to some much needed young journalists with principles and with true ideals. There are so many people writing better things on the internet for free, the whole thing is a racket diverting resources that should go to them.
Damn it, this is the last post I write about this. It is getting old, like Chinglish, except that the Oriental is not even funny.