Just professionalism -- that is the secret of the hard-hitting Chinese news magazine 'Caijing', its editor Hu Shuli tells Rong Jiaojaio in this report done for the Asia Media Report 2006, to be published soon by the Asia Media Forum.
Q: What do you think is the most important factor that contributes to Caijing's success?
A: I've heard many versions of Caijing's success secrets in media reports. Some say Caijing has great vision and courage. Some say Caijing has unique connections with high-ranking government officials. Actually, in my opinion, it's very simple. We just do our reports with professionalism.
Each report in Caijing is based on solid facts and multiple sources. Although some government officials may not be happy with our negative reports, they respect what we have written. For example, if we criticise a government official in our report, he will not be happy, but he will not look down upon us because all that we have written are objective facts.
The media potential in China is very large, but many media organisations have failed to grasp the opportunity. One important reason is that they lack the proper concept and practice of professionalism. Some media organisations even surrender their accuracy and objectivity to commercial profit.
We should not always blame the current Chinese media climate which, of course, is not satisfactory but is improving gradually. News organisations also need to increase their own reporting quality. That means conducting extensive investigations and finding different sources. Competition in the western media is very fierce, and so western journalists are required to find as many sources as possible and render clear attributions. Although Chinese media competition is not so heated, we should adopt international journalistic standards as a requirement for journalists. If our reports are high quality, then it is easier to cope with the media environment. Only a socially responsible media organization producing high-quality reports can survive and win respect.
Caijing is considered the most hardworking place in Beijing's media. Every fact is doublechecked, even though nowadays every rumour has its market. From the first day of Caijing's first issue in 1998, we adopted the highest standards for our journalists and until today, we have never wavered from that standard. Even though there's plenty of space between best and second best, we always insist on the very best standard.
So Caijing has no secret. All journalists learn the same thing at journalism school. The only difference is that we just practice what we have learned at school and never change, although even teachers at that time reminded me that some rules might have to be modified in the real world.
Q: Do you see any rivals to Caijing in China's media? What's the biggest challenge that Caijing faces now?
A: The competition for getting first-hand information and conducting exclusive reports has become heated. Even if we get first-hand information, we cannot keep it secret for long because the magazine is published every two weeks. Caijing more or less dominated the coverage of financial news up to 2000, but that is no longer the case today.
I think the challenge we face is to react more quickly to important events while still maintaining our competitive edge in in-depth investigative reports. During 1998-2000, no other media did investigative reports like we did. When we got famous, Caijing was a monthly magazine. Nowadays, who would believe that a monthly magazine could be outstanding? At that time, when we came up with a good topic, we just conducted our own investigation, for one month or another month if necessary. But now that is just not the case.
Q: What are future plans for Caijing?
A: We want to put more effort into our website. We note that 'BusinessWeek' has closed down its Asia edition while the 'Wall Street Journal' has downsized.
In western countries, the print media has entered a sunset period. Although in China right now the print media is experiencing a sunrise period, this cannot last for long. Our English website today has many foreign interns and Chinese journalists with a foreign studies background. And more importantly, we want to create our own brand of high-quality Chinese website like the 'New York Times' and the 'Wall Street Journal', which does not blindly pursue click rates like other commercial portal websites. Nowadays you cannot tell which news on which website is true. Sometimes such websites challenge our journalism values.
'Caijing' wants to set up a reliable and trustworthy website.
We hope we can help readers draw their own conclusions on some issues when facing an explosion of information. Also in some editorials and reviews, we will provide our own judgment, which is neither official nor attached to any interest group. It is all independent, not manipulated. (END/AMF/IPSAP/160706)
This story is also available at Asia Media Forum (www.asiamediaforum.org)