Fate of WSJ China Real Time marks end of an era
Published: Jul 04, 2017 11:57 PM

China Real Time, a blog launched in 2008 affiliated to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), ended its run recently. In the blog's farewell note, Beijing-based reporter Josh Chin reviewed stories the blog covered in the past nine years and announced WSJ's plan to "transfer the same energy and insight that animated the blog to covering China on WSJ's other platforms, including the main English and Chinese websites."

In an effort to deal with the challenges posed by new media, WSJ in 2015 carried out a major reorganization that involved job cuts and shifting resources into digital media. It closed several blogs but China Real Time, as one of those blogs in core areas or with big audiences, remained. However, it failed to escape from the fate of being shuttered in the end. One possible reason could be it's no longer considered competitive.

Western media once dominated global news coverage of China. There were times that stories in China were first broken by foreign media, and then followed by their Chinese peers. It was frustrating for Chinese journalists then that the public considered Western media a more influential source. Meanwhile, due to political differences, the Western press tends to interpret Chinese affairs through an ideologically biased lens. 

With China's rise, Westerners have much more interest in the world's most populous country. The Western media can no longer fill the role of explaining what's happening in China to the world. Western media outlets may think their reports on China are more accurate. But the Chinese media now have more resources and approaches to make their China coverage more comprehensive, objective and timely.

The trend has been reversed now the Chinese media is leading in reporting China. They can compete with Western media in terms of reporting speed and range. The Chinese media has become more popular to an audience that is hungry to understand China. Chinese media such as the People's Daily, Xinhua News Agency, and CGTN have Twitter followers numbering in the millions, even in the tens of millions. 

In the farewell note, China Real Time stated that "the China story has changed, and so have the tools for telling it." If the Western media really wants to tell a good China story, it needs more than a change of platform - it also needs a fairer attitude when it looks at China.

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