The Internet: crib sheet for the yellow press

A scandal sheet.

Some unregistered newspapers try to mask their fringe status with names like Legal Morning News or Military Affairs. Here's a newspaper that's not ashamed of its position in the gutter: Scandals Exposed (丑闻揭秘).

This paper is priced less than most — 1 yuan vs. 2 yuan for the "Faye Wong dead" papers — but it makes up for that by running ads for sex chat lines, mahjong secrets, and companies offering wireless devices to disrupt electronic scales and vending machines, eavesdropping gadgets, and x-ray goggles.

Articles, which are uncredited, are mostly sex-related: confessions of extramarital affairs, tales of prostitution, casting couch stories, and exposés of famous stars' private lives. There's really little in this issue (#2900 by the count on the cover, #2888 on the fake cover inside) that could count as "scandal" proper, however. There's a piece on Fan Bingbing, something on the played-out Jay Chou / Patty Hou love affair, and quotes from the ever-dependable Song Zude identifying Andy Lau's bastard son. No celebrity deaths, unfortunately.

Who writes this stuff? Do these illegal papers have an office somewhere, with a staff of reporters banging on keyboards, manufacturing "scandals"?

The answer, of course, is that it's all stolen. The cover story, "You'll never again be my wife," was taken from an article published in Shenzhen Youth in April. Another adultery story "Temptation to stray" was clipped from an email printed in a confessional column in the Huashang Morning Post. The paper's layout suggests that the editors merely downloaded the articles from one of the many sites republishing them, added in some clipart and ads, and called it a newspaper.

But it's not just the mainstream media: the Fan Bingbing story, "Fan Bingbing sold her body to break into showbiz," was copied from a blog post. And a risque piece about a one-night stand was taken from Sohu's Women's Forum. It's not really surprising that unregistered papers are turning to the Internet for content — blogs and forums, though subject to those pesky social morality regulations, still offer more tantalizing material than traditional print media.

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