Printing the Internet

The Internet empire on paper.

The Internet has become an easy source of interesting content for China's entertainment weeklies. The big names — BQ, The Bund, SMW, and Modern Weekly — all feature the latest, hottest blog and forum topics to some degree. YWeekend devotes practically an entire section to material from the Internet, netspeak glossaries, and analyses of online trends.

Last month a new player entered this market: 网事周刊, which we'll call Net News Weekly in the absence of an official title. The cover (pictured here) is laid-out as a browser window titled "The Internet Empire on Paper"; featured articles include "China's top ten online games for picking up chicks," "The 15 most influential websites" (from the Observer article, also in this week's The Bund), and a discussion of which Chinese and Korean actresses should play what role in the new TV adaptation of Dream of the Red Mansion.

The paper is published by Southern Workers' News, the official organ of the Guangdong Federation of Trade Unions. As a new supplement, NNW shares a kanhao with the main paper, so it has chosen make use of the sort of inside-out folding trickery that typifies bottom-feeding tabloids (here's the real front page).

However, where NNW distinguishes itself from those rags is in its frank acknowledgement of the source of its content. The name, of course. Then there's the box at the end of practically every article noting the website from which it was taken; a web search for the paper's title brings up blog comments by NNW editors asking permission to reprint. And a line on the back page invites authors to write in for their contribution fees. So it's all nice and above-board.

But is anyone going to read it? Other tabloids that take their material from online sources are more specifically targeted: crime stories, confessionals, entertainment gossip — stuff that has a ready market. One has to wonder, though: does general web content — even the latest, hottest posts — hold any attraction to people who aren't already online?

NNW does have an interesting promotional hook: this week's issue carries an announcement that readers who hold on to the first four issues (10-31 August) for one year will receive a prize valued at 120 yuan.

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