Reading Style: Another dodgy digest magazine launches in Beijing

Reading Style, June 1, 2009

The white cover showing a shot-through cleaver hanging from a noose belongs to the launch issue of Reading Style (精品阅读), a new magazine jointly sponsored by the Publishers Association of China and China Youth Press.

Registered in Beijing (CN11-5797/Z) and published under the authority of the State Council Information Office, Reading Style is a digest magazine: most of the articles its articles are republications of stories that originally appeared in other magazines, newspapers, or blogs. Some are attributed, others aren't, and articles that bear the bylines of the magazine's editorial staff are largely paste-ups of reporting from multiple sources.

The cover feature, on the various ways that wayward officials meet their deaths, consists of a Procuratorial Daily report, blog posts by Shi Hanbing and Yang Hengjun on the Deng Yujiao case, and a People's Daily article from October 20, 1979, on the case of Jiang Aizhen, a woman living in Xinjiang whose death sentence for killing three people when officials refused to hear her complaint that she was falsely accused of adultery was commuted after a national outpouring of sympathy.

The existence of Reading Style is something of a puzzle. The magazine has no advertising whatsoever apart from two inside covers from paper company DYJ and a back cover from fund manager ChinaAMC. And the launch was fairly low-key: it doesn't seem to have been promoted anywhere visible online, nor did it receive the same sort of print push that surrounded the recent launch of China Weekly, another Beijing-based magazine.

Nowhere is the magazine's lack of a guiding hand more evident than in the introduction. Typically, a first issue will include a grand mission statement, some reason that the magazine exists. Reading Style prints an article by Mao Yushi titled "Speak on Behalf of the Rich, Act on Behalf of the Poor," in which the economist writes about the public's tendency to criticize the rich regardless of whether or not their wealth is tainted, and to talk about the need to help the poor without actually doing anything concrete.

It's a well-written article that's representative of Mao's often controversial views on society, but it's nothing new: it was first published in Southern Metropolis Daily in July 2007.

One "exclusive" trumpeted by the magazine is an anti-smoking ad featuring Zhao Bandi and his ubiquitous stuffed panda. The new ad follows a similar panda-related anti-smoking ad done a decade ago:

Zhao Bandi and Panda 1999
Zhao Bandi and Panda 2009

Unfortunately for the magazine's claims of exclusivity, Zhao's ad landed on billboards and other public media as part of a nationwide campaign launched on World Anti-Smoking Day, May 31, right around the time Reading Style hit the streets.

Links and Sources
There are currently 4 Comments for Reading Style: Another dodgy digest magazine launches in Beijing.

Comments on Reading Style: Another dodgy digest magazine launches in Beijing

Wait a minute. The noose looks a bit like a '6' and the cleaver is shaped a bit like a '4'. And there's blood!

How on Earth did this get by the censors?

Good work, Stuart! I would say the noose indeed looks like a 6 and there are 4 obvious holes in the cleaver, although one could argue that a fifth hole exists near the bottom of the blade near the blood.
On closer inspection I also detected the phrase "MADE IN CHINA" written in English at the top of the cleaver.
Roland will get a kick out of this. His ESWN blog recently featured a newspaper ad that caused a paper to get pulled because 6 people stood behind 4 others and one of the children in the photo had "1989" printed on his pants.

Another exclusive is a nasty hit-piece on academic whipping-boy Yu Qiuyu, the sort of thing you can find all over the Internet.

on close inspection. there are 4 holes on the cleaver too :)

must be something going on there.

China Media Timeline
Major media events over the last three decades
Danwei Model Workers
The latest recommended blogs and new media
From 2008
Front Page of the Day
A different newspaper every weekday
From the Vault
Classic Danwei posts
+ Culture and corporate propaganda in Soho Xiaobao (2007.11): Mid-2007 issues of Soho Xiaobao (SOHO小报), illustrating the complicated identity of in-house magazines run by real estate companies.
+ Internet executives complain about excessive Net censorship (2010.03): Internet executives complain about excessive Net censorship at an officially sanctioned meeting in Shenzhen.
+ Crowd-sourced cheating on the 2010 gaokao (2010.06): A student in Sichuan seeks help with the ancient Chinese section of this year's college entrance exam -- while the test is going on!
Danwei Archives