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March 28 2012


Mandarin-English luxury magazine boosts revenue for Observer Media Group

In the span of a decade, the number of visitors to New York City from China more than quadrupled. Ten years ago, 59,000 Chinese tourists visited the city. By 2010, the tally was at 266,000, according to the most recent data from the tourism research firm NYC & Company.

This wave of new visitors has brought an influx of cash to an otherwise recession-addled retail market. But the jump in visitors from China has also presented a magazine publishing opportunity.

In November, Observer Media Group — parent company of The New York Observer — and China Happenings jointly launched YUE, a bilingual Mandarin-English luxury magazine aimed at those affluent Chinese visitors and influential Chinese Americans in the tri-state area. Editor Chiu-Ti Jansen says YUE takes editorial cues from publications like Vogue and Departures, but serves a niche audience that hasn’t yet been served by the luxury magazine market.

It’s not just expanding into a niche — it’s expanding into another language. At a time when U.S. and U.K. publishers are looking for expansion overseas and international publishers want to break into English, Observer Media is pursuing a linguistic opportunity in its own neighborhood.

“We cater to the Chinese, and we do it in a bilingual way,” Jansen says. “Another thing is, the predecessors of Chinese publications in this country, they all end up being very culturally, traditionally Chinese. I never envisioned this as an ethnic publication. I know it’s a niche publication, but we start to be able to interact with both the U.S. and Chinese audiences in a much more avant-garde way. I call it a Chinese sensitivity: we are very sensitive to Chinese interests but it’s an international outlook…These people are not interested in coming to New York and shop like a Chinese [person]. What they are interested in is to learn to live as an international.”

One major area of focus is contemporary arts and culture: “Art buying is the ultimate symbol of luxury consumption in China,” says Jansen, who also looks for profile subjects who bridge the gap between East and West.

“We started with [pianist] Lang Lang, and then we had [designer] Jason Wu, and next issue our cover story will be [actor] Lucy Liu,” Jansen says. “You cannot just throw a New York or U.S. celebrity on the cover…But we also stretch the connections they know, and we challenge them.”

The magazine printed 35,000 copies for each of its first two issues, which were distributed to tour companies, luxury hotels, Chinese cultural centers in New York, as well as sent to about 8,000 Mandarin-speaking homes in the area. Those “very, very high end” readers include hedge fund managers and board members of New York’s major institutions. Getting advertisers like Chanel and Fendi was “a fairly easy sell” as a result, according to New York Observer editor Elizabeth Spiers.

“We have a lot of ancillary publications that have targeted a similarly high-income, affluent, well-educated demographic,” Spiers told me. “But YUE is original because we were looking at the luxury market from the business side of things, given the demand for luxury goods in New York among Chinese tourists.”

(In Chinese, “yue” means “invitation, promise, and rendezvous,” Observer Media says. It’s also the second half of Niu Yue, the Chinese name for New York.)

Spiers says YUE has been “very successful,” enough so that Observer Media Group is mulling the launch of a Los Angeles edition, as well as a location-based app that would serve as a food and retail guide for visitors.

“It’s something we’ve discussed, [but] we don’t have it in the works right now,” Spiers said. “You’ll notice that [YUE] is very product-heavy. It sort of tells you where to go to do your shopping and eating, so we’re thinking it probably makes sense at some point to integrate with a mobile app.”

In the meantime, YUE has snagged top luxury advertisers that have been otherwise elusive for Observer Media Group. The pages of YUE — both editorial and advertising — are lined with pricy ideas on how you can reinvent your wardrobe: Ralph Lauren ball gowns, Chanel diamond rings, Harry Winston watches, and J. Mendel minks.

“We have a lot of fashion, watches, jewelry, and shopping-related information because this is their No. 1 priority,” Jansen says. “According to New York City statistics, Chinese rank shopping first as opposed to food or concerts or other types of activities. We know we need to satisfy their interest in this aspect. I am fully aware of where their tastes stand, but I think the Chinese taste is evolving very, very fast. We have to convey the same message to our advertisers so they don’t have a fixed idea of what the Chinese want, because it’s a work in progress.”

July 29 2010


Chinese news site praised for publishing global content – but where is it now?

The editorsweblog.com has a post from Stefanie Churnow looking at the latest developments on a Chinese website called yeeyan.org – a news site made up of content translated from English in an attempt to help pull down the language barrier thrown up by the globalisation of journalism.

The site itself has been running since 2006 and has 150,000 registered users according to Nieman Journalism Lab, inviting translators to enable the movement of news from one language to the next.

Yeeyan focuses on the social aspect of its mission over quality of content. Users are highly encouraged to interact with the site and have their own profile which shows their statistics of their involvement on Yeeyan. People can recommend articles for translation, or they can attempt to translate an article themselves.

Commenting on the site’s success so far, Churnow says the significance is the support it provides to global journalism and offers a model for the future.

With the globalization of journalism, the need to translate different news sources into a variety of language is growing. The Paris based Courrier International is an established leader in this trend, translating articles from all over the world into French. Yet the Yeeyan community is an example of how it is possible to build cultural and language bridges at a cheaper rate than what is offered by conventional translating methods. Yeeyan may be replicated in the future to provide community based translating systems across many different languages. The drawback though is you get what you pay for; the communities are essentially free to sustain, but this social aspect to Yeeyan means that translation is not necessarily to a professional standard.

However when Journalism.co.uk tried to access the site today, we were unable. The reason for this is currently unknown, but just last year it was shut down following a partnership venture with the Guardian Media Group.

See the full post here…Similar Posts:

March 15 2010


The Google/China hacking case: How did the story flow through Chinese-language media?

HONG KONG — A few weeks ago, Jonathan Stray looked at how news is reported and repeated in the new news ecosystem by tracking a single international story — the revelation that last year’s hacking of Google and other companies had been traced to two schools in China. His finding: 121 distinct versions of the story, but only 13 of which included any original reporting.

But Stray’s analysis only looked at English-language media. I wanted to compare his findings with how their Chinese news ecosystem reported the story. So I applied the same research methods to the Chinese-language reporting of this story; I went through every version of the story listed on the China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan editions of Google News to quantitatively examine the coverage on the Chinese-language Internet.

Here’s what I found: Although the total number of versions of the story in Chinese (151) was similar to the number of versions in English (121), the Chinese web pages were almost entirely verbatim reposts of only six pieces of copy, of which four included original reporting.

When Chinese news organizations follow an important and sensitive event, their coverage reflects state media policies. The coverage of the so-called “hacker-training schools” in China offers several clues as to how the Chinese media system, not known for its press freedom, actually works. Independent web sites are not allowed to gather news, and the vast majority didn’t. It’s also much safer to repeat official reports than write original copy when covering politically sensitive topics — and this was certainly a sensitive story for the Chinese government, which has been not-quite-accused by Google of state-sponsored hacking.

There were 151 items on the topic in the Google News story cluster when I gathered them. I went through each, tracking the original source of the copy and the source of the information, among other things, and gathered the results in an spreadsheet. These are the major findings:

There were only six distinct written stories. Four newspapers, a website, and a wire service offered distinct versions of the story of tracing Google’s recent attackers to two schools in China. These media were, in the order that Google News ranked them, Elite Reference (Beijing), China Times (Beijing), China News Service (nationwide), Dazhong Web (Shandong), Qilu Evening News (Shandong), and Information Times (Guangzhou). These six stories were widely reposted by both commercial websites and local newspaper websites. The story from the China News Service was reposted 68 times, while the least repeated story was reposted seven times.

Four of these six stories were based on significant original reporting: China Times, China News Service, Dazhong Web, and Qilu Evening News. The other two stories (from Elite reference and Information Times) rearranged the facts from other media, adding a few comments from news conferences or netizens.

Out of the 151 web pages, 76 (50 percent) were the online outlets of traditional media. Among them, 56 (37 percent) were primarily newspapers, while the others are the websites of TV or radio stations. Private companies or individuals are not permitted to run a newspaper or broadcasting station independent of government oversight in China, so these figures mean that half of the websites following the Google hacking news are effectively state-run media.

Xinhua, the primary state-run Chinese news agency, did not contribute any stories in Chinese, but offered a report in English.

Essentially every web site that was not affiliated with a news agency reposted one of the six stories verbatim. This differed from the practice of English-language web sites, which mostly rewrote the story (without additional reporting). Depending on how you look at it, this is either blatant plagiarism — or extremely efficient.

Again, this is the result of state policy. In China, independent websites are not allowed to conduct interviews or do original reporting. “By maintaining the strictest control over the right to issue, review and revoke press accreditation, the government can exercise control over the media — and potentially over individuals who dare to practice ‘journalism’ outside the system,” according to Qian Gang and David Bandurski of the China Media Project at the University of Hong Kong. Authorized news sites are fed by licensed traditional media. For all other sites, reposting the official stories protects them politically, both from violations of reporting restrictions and from off-message coverage of sensitive topics.

One website, Huameiwang, wrote a summarized story with hyperlinks to relevant articles reposted on its own domain. Due to the journalistic restrictions in force, this form of aggregation is common for online news organizations when covering important news events.

Linking to sources was rare on the Chinese internet. Overall, 118 websites (81 percent of the 145 total reposts) did not link back to the source of their text, and 15 sites did not mention any source at all.

The four pieces offered by the Hong Kong edition of Google News were reposted or rewritten from mainland media and the NYT, as were the stories in the Taiwan edition. For whatever reason, the Chinese-language media in these much less restricted regions did not do original reporting on this story.

Google News missed at least one original story, from the Chinese version of Global Times. There were also different versions of the copy that were not listed, including some less-known local media and bloggers, such as the Xiaoxiang Morning Post in Hunan province.

To summarize: newspapers still played a dominant role in reporting this story, and websites reposted newspaper content repeatedly both for economic and political considerations. Chinese websites rarely did independent reporting, because it isn’t necessary for the online outlets of existing news agencies, and isn’t allowed for all other sites.

The distinct versions of the story are listed in the following table. More information on each of the 151 items (whether or not linked to source, country of publication, primary medium, etc.) is available in the full spreadsheet.

Outlet Sources Dateline Times Reposted Elite Reference NYT, AFP, Xinhua 13 China Times Original, NYT Beijing 29 China News Service Original, NYT Jinan 68 Dazhong Web Original Jinan 7 Qilu Evening News Original 10 Information Times Shanghai Evening Post, Shanghai Morning Post, Qilu Evening News 11

Thanks to Jonathan Stray and Yuen-Ying Chan for their contributions.

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