New York Times CEO says Chinese language site under review

NYT’s Chinese website has been blocked since it published an article about the family wealth of Wen Jiabao in 2012

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New York Times Chief Executive Officer Mark Thompson said the publisher is going to keep all its money losing operations under review - including those in China - as he seeks to negotiate the newspaper’s increasing shift towards a digital landscape.

The New York Times Chinese language website has been blocked in China ever since it published an article in October 2012 about the family wealth of Wen Jiabao, the former premier.

Thompson said in an interview with Reuters on Tuesday that the website, which was launched in a beta version in June 2012, got off to an encouraging start.

“The fact that we can’t be seen officially inside China means the revenue is not as large as we would have wished it to have been,” he said.

“If it’s a loss-making operation, they are all under constant review.”

The Chinese site’s struggles are one of several hurdles Thompson faces a little more than a year after he became CEO. He was Director-General of the BBC from 2004 to 2012.

Like other media organizations, the newspaper faces unprecedented challenges because of declining advertising revenue and print readership.

Many news companies, including The New York Times, are hoping to tap new revenue streams in foreign markets including Asia. The newspaper last month renamed its overseas publication - the International Herald Tribune - to the International New York Times as part of the drive for global growth.

The New York Times in early October launched another Chinese-language website focused on lifestyle, part of its style magazine franchise.

“By taking some of the journalism of the Times and bringing it to Chinese readers it’s a perfectly valid thing for us to do. It doesn’t really address the issue of the main site,” Thompson said.

Thompson said that Chinese officials had given no indication that the main site was going to be unblocked anytime soon.

“My view is that the New York Times should be seeking to report the entire world objectively and fairly but pursuing stories of public interest wherever we find them - that includes China.

“We believe not just for ourselves but for all news outlets. It is in all countries’ interest to allow journalists to do their work freely.”

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