Media and Advertising

Shanghai Daily and Danwei

Shanghai Daily's new website

Shanghai's flagship English newspaper, the Shanghai Daily has a new website. It is worth a visit, especially because they seem to be keen on covering the type of stories that Danwei has traditionally followed, such as this one: "A farmer who wanted a mistress — and money — was arrested after he robbed a college student working as a "chatting mistress" and tried to extort 5,000 yuan (US$517) after taking pictures of her in the nude, prosecutors said yesterday."


The Shanghai Daily also seems to have been inspired by Danwei's design: look at the colors, layout and typefaces, as reproduced above.

Danwei's grey and maroon color scheme was chosen to match the old city of Beijing's grey and maroon walls.

It quite amusing that Shanghai's leading English newspaper's website is covered in colors that epitomize the northern city that Shanghainese love to hate.

The Shanghai Daily has always been full of internal contradictions. Started in October 1999, it was supposed to be a new alternative to the turgid China Daily. However, Shanghai has a highly conservative media environment — the local media authorities are probably the most uptight in the whole country, and the Shanghai Daily has until recently never risen above the level of a dull college newspaper, consisting of wire stories mixed up with local filler stories edited by non-native English speakers.

However, in 2003,just before the SARS panic set in, someone at the Shanghai city government (which controls the newspaper) decided that things needed to change. Yifei Group, the late artist Chen Yifei's would-be media and fashion empire, got a chance to pitch to the Shanghai government to manage the newspaper.

Your correspondent's company was called in to put together a dummy newspaper to show the Shanghai city government what an Yifei-produced Shanghai Daily would look like. Despite the brief that the newspaper should be international, it was insisted that a photo of Chen Liangyu — the mayor of Shanghai — adorn the front page of the dummy newspaper.

This is what the dummy looked like:

A Shanghai Daily that never made it to a real printing press

The dummy issue you see on the left did not please the Shanghai government enough to give Yifei the management rights of the newspaper. Or perhaps the idea got canned because of SARS, or because of the real estate scandals that plagued the city in the summer of 2003.

About a year later, in July 2004, the Financial Times reported the following:

In another example of overseas interest in the Chinese media market, interests associated with Kerry Stokes, owner of Australia's Seven Network, have been advising the state-owned Shanghai Daily on its editorial and business management.

Bob Cronin, a former senior media executive in Western Australia, Mr Stokes' home state, is working in the municipal government-controlled English language newspaper as an adviser on daily news.

However, a spokesman for Mr Stokes in Australia and the paper's editor in Shanghai denied Mr Stokes had invested directly in the paper.

"It's impossible for any foreign company to buy into the Shanghai Daily," said Zhang Ciyun, the editor-in-chief, who declined to comment further on the paper's relations with Mr Stokes.

However, Mr Stokes could be able to invest in an advertising and management company separate from editorial to provide services to the paper, as a number of foreign companies have done.

Mr Stokes has growing interests in China, as the authorised distributor for Caterpillar products in nine provinces and as adviser to Beijing on telecasting the 2008 Olympics.

Communist capitalist media business: don't ya love it.

Links and Sources
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