China

Facebook News Media: The Heroes and Zeros

One would expect the richer western newsrooms to be more agile in commanding online audiences; however, it is news outlets in less developed markets that are far more effective in capturing audiences on Facebook, according to our newly released in

Facebook News Media: Who Is Winning in Asia?

Chinese and Indian news media command millions of followers on Facebook - but it is in the much tinier Myanmar where news media is really effective?
 
Today, we released the Facebook Index Asia-Pacific, which measures news outlets in this part of the world based on the number of their followers reported to the size of their local market.
 
The news media market on Facebook in the Asia-Pacific region is extremely vibrant. Only two media outlets score more than 100 in the Index in Asia-Pacific, which is a low score compared to, say, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region where we have 17 such news outlets. However, that is explained by the homogeneity of the MENA market, where nations are united by the common use of Arabic. It is not the case in Asia, one of the most diverse continents, an amalgam of language markets, foreign influences and cultures.

Monitoring and Killing Public Opinion Online: A Booming Industry in China

China has traditionally been a masterful manipulator of public opinion. It has finally perfected a system to weed out dissent on the internet, too.
 
Days before the inauguration of the American president-elect Donald Trump, bosses at Chinese media outlets received a list of instructions about how to cover this event. Journalists were ordered to use only reports written by the country’s central state media. The idea was to belittle the investiture of the boisterous American president, who has repeatedly pledged to abandon America’s “One China” policy, a promise that is irking the Chinese upper crust.
 
That is not unusual in a country where the media operates under the watchful eye of the state censorship machinery. Censorship is the norm in China. Directives on how to cover events and issues are common among China’s media and journalists.
 
In order to keep critics aligned, though, Chinese authorities have gone much further: they have turned monitoring of public opinion online into a round-the-clock industry. Its goal is to neuter the very object of monitoring: public opinion.
 

Internet Is Censored in Two-Thirds of the World

Many believe the Internet equals freedom of information. Recently, that has been less and less the case.
 
Maung Saung Kha, a 23-year old poet from Myanmar, was relieved last May to hear that he would be released from prison. On 24 May 2016, Mr Saung Kha was sentenced to six months in jail for defaming Myanmar’s former president Thein Sein, but because he had already spent six months behind bars, he was freed the same day.
 
His crime: posting a poem on Facebook in which a newlywed was baffled to see a tattoo featuring Myanmar’s former president on her husband’s genitals. The husband in the poem was Mr Saung Kha. In other parts of the world, such a poem would trigger a smile. But in Myanmar, authorities took this seriously. Using provisions on defamation from the telecommunications law, they justified imprisonment of the young bard in the Insein jail near Yangon, Myanmar’s capital city.
 

Is Donor Funding Bad for Journalism?

Funding from donors in the media has grown significantly during the past decade or so. Journalists welcome the charity. But when these awards come with editorial “advice”, we have a problem.
 
Thisisafrica.me is an online media outlet that brands itself as a “leading forum for African opinion, arts and music.” They cover a jumble of topics ranging from politics to corruption to sex and reproductive policies. The site publishes op-eds, interviews and investigations. Its journalism has been widely praised across the continent.
 
But in spite of its apparent popularity, Thisisafrica.me is in business mainly thanks to donor funding: cash doled out by foundations and deep-pocketed philanthropists. Without cash from donors, Thisisafrica.me wouldn’t exist. That is hardly surprising, especially on a continent ravaged by poverty where markets can rarely support high-quality journalism.
 
But over the past decade or so, as the internet and dwindling economies have clobbered mainstream media companies, funding independent journalism has become a major problem everywhere. Ad spend is down or spread to many more outlets than before. Newspaper circulations have dived. Journalists and media companies take funding from almost all kinds of givers, donors included. Even established media are increasingly resorting to private donors.

What Happens When Media Oligarchs Go Shopping?

Mighty, politically well-connected oligarchs are in the mood for retail therapy, and their targets are media outlets. Their influence over journalism has begun to reach worrying levels.
 
Jack Ma of Chinese giant Alibaba, Rupert Murdoch of News Corp, Delyan Peevski from the tobacco maker Bulgartabak, Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris and Saudi prince Al-Waleed are all completely different businessmen. They look totally unalike and live in different places. One is obese, another one is skinny. One hails from Sofia, another one from Cairo. Their tastes are dissimilar.
 
But they also have some things in common: an unwonted wealth, close links with political power and a firm grip on much of the world’s media.
 
The issue of ownership concentration in the media is not new. It goes back to the 1980s and 1990s when some of the now old media moguls began to build their holdings. The rise of disrupting internet behemoths in the past decade or so was expected to dent into their power. It didn’t.

Asian Telcos, the Poorest at Reporting on Anti-corruption

Telecom behemoths drive technology advancement and help to grow the digital economy. But many of them have serious problems with reining in corruption. Asia leads in that category. 

Chang Xiaobing, the chairman of the telco China Telecommunications Corp (China Telecom), came under investigation last December under suspicion of serious disciplinary violations, which in the local legal lingo usually means corruption-related crimes. Mr Chang is the highest-ranking official from the country’s telecom industry to date being investigated for corruption.

But that was not the first corruption investigation case in the Chinese telecom sector. In November 2014, two top executives from China United Network Communications Group (China Unicom), the second largest telco in China by number of subscribers, came under investigation for a slew of legal violations.
 

China Plans to Push out Foreign Owners From Its Internet

Chinese authorities have never liked dissenting voices. Now, they want to solve that problem by removing foreign players from their internet. This would be a major blow for international news producers.
 
The Chinese government traditionally doesn’t cope well with critical voices and has done all they can to fence opinionated people off of its internet. But as of next month Chinese authorities seem poised to purge their online space of all foreign players, according to a new set of rules adopted by the country’s industry and IT ministry, which are to take effect on 10 March 2016.
 
 
The move has triggered anxiety amongst some of the larger international media groups that operate in China, as they have pumped hefty investments into building their businesses there. Essentially, if these rules are implemented verbatim, foreign-owned companies with operations on the Chinese internet have to pack up and go. These include news media outlets, entertainment companies, gaming sites and publishers.