How to run a good newspaper: don't cause trouble

Qingyuan Daily: It's only good if the readers say so

The first issue of the new year is traditionally a time for newspaper editors to address their readership directly and either recap the achievements of the past year, or lay out some vague goals for the coming one.

On January 1, the Qingyuan Daily, the mouthpiece of the party committee of a city in northern Guangdong Province, ran the following New Year's greeting under the byline of editor-in-chief Pan Wei:

We're Working Hard for Reader Praise

by Pan Wei / QD

The mockup of the final newspaper of 2009 has been reviewed, and another year has come to a close. Another year of hard work for my colleagues and I. Why all of the effort and hard work? One simple reason: reader praise.

What sort of praise?

Praise to the face is flattery; praise from a friend is favoritism; praise from leaders is encouragement; praise from myself means that I feel fine.

So what kind of praise, then?

Third parties. In mid-October, 2009, at a head-to-head competition held during the Ninth National Newspaper Editors Seminar on News Photography and Summit on 60 Years of New China News Photography, this newspaper was awarded third prize in the National Outstanding Newspaper Photo-Feature Award. It was one of just sixteen papers at the national, provincial, and prefecture levels, and one of three prefecture-level papers, to receive an award. Jury-member Gu Zhigang, a professor at Fudan's School of Journalism, said, "Qingyuan Daily grasps the essence of news photography — high impact — and represents the future direction of the news pages of municipal party newspapers. Qingyuan Daily's creative vision takes shape in its pages to grip readers' attention. It is a worthy model for other municipal party papers to study."

Colleagues. The head of the Shaoguan Daily, located like us in northern Guangdong, said last month that he was envious of two things we had: a newspaper run with a degree of culture, and a large number of high-quality advertisements.

Businesses. Ad clients say that a good newspaper is one with effective distribution. So a newspaper with lots of ads is a good newspaper.

The editor-in-chief of this newspaper says: the best newspaper is one that does not cause trouble.

My colleagues and I wish the readers of Qingyuan Daily a happy new year!

Southern Weekly, which picked up the editorial in its January 7 issue after Pan's final words had caused a stir online, offered some quotes from other media workers:

"When I first saw the piece, I thought it was a fake and went to check it out in the Qingyuan Daily itself," said He Xiongfei, editor of New Weekly. He located the New Year's greetings in the newspaper's electronic edition. "I don't think most journalists would think that way."

"A good newspaper is one whose reports are responsible and are beneficial to society. Whether or not they cause trouble is absolutely not the measurement,' said Zhan Jiang, a media scholar, said that the editor's remarks were ridiculous. "To quote Marx, newspapers work tirelessly to expose those in power. In asking politicians to run newspapers, our government requires that they supervise; it does not ask them to avoid trouble. At no time can they brush aside a newspaper's task of supervision by public opinion."

Journalist Wang Qianma found it hard to express his feelings on the subject. "For an editor-in-chief to say such a thing, I can only say that he's preserving his meal ticket but abandoning his professional integrity." Zhang Tiehui, marketing director of China National Radio's Voice of the Economy program, ridiculed the piece: "Newspapers that don't cause trouble are the best toilet paper."

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Comments on How to run a good newspaper: don't cause trouble

Perhaps they meant the real Editor-in-Chief, Hu Jintao.

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