New York Times makes a tentative return to WeiboBy Asian Correspondent Oct 22, 2013 7:01PM UTC
The New York Times is back on Chinese microblogging site Weibo, this time in a form that is unlikely to upset Chinese authorities. The Weibo account of the Chinese-language version of The New York Times Style Magazine launched with the website on October 10, picking up almost 6,500 followers so far.
The Times’ initial foray into the Weibo world came in late June with the launch of the Chinese version of the main newspaper website. And while the website got off to a smooth start, the associated Weibo account was suspended within hours.
At the time, The Next Web’s @jonrussell wrote:
Yesterday the New York Times announced a significant move when it announced plans to introduce a fully Chinese version of the prestigious newspaper’s website, with an accompanying account on Sina Weibo, a microblogging platform popularly heralded as ‘China’s Twitter’.
The updates on the new lifestyle-focused Weibo account have been standard fare so far – fashion, music, exam stress – and are unlikely to incur the wrath of China’s censors. In fact, the Times seem to be going out of their way to keep the content Weibo-friendly. Arthur Sulzberger, chairman of the New York Times Company and the newspaper’s publisher, told Caixin: ”Our new site is not focused on politics, or foreign policy or business news. It’s a lifestyle site.”
While Weibo has gone some way towards changing the way China consumes and shares news – as seen in the recent trial of disgraced politician Bo Xilai - the platform remains heavily censored. China announced last month Internet users could face jail time writing or sharing defamatory messages and the authorities have an army of censors in place to keep an eye on the massive volumes of content.
Reuters reported last month:
In a modern office building on the outskirts of the Chinese city of Tianjin, rows of censors stare at computer screens. Their mission: delete any post on Sina Weibo, China’s version of Twitter, deemed offensive or politically unacceptable.
But the people behind the censorship of China’s most popular microblogging site are not ageing Communist Party apparatchiks. Instead, they are new college graduates.
As for The New York Times, a full return to Weibo may be some way off yet.